When National Amusements' controlling shareholder Shari Redstone pushed CBS and Viacom to merge earlier this year, her plan was simple: CBS CEO Les Moonves would run the company and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish would be his second-in-command.
Now there are two paths where Bakish could get the chance to run a combined company himself.
CBS balked at the deal earlier this year precisely because Bakish was floated as Moonves' No. 2. CNBC reported in April that Moonves wanted Joe Ianniello, his current COO at CBS, to be his right-hand man at a combined company. Redstone wanted Bakish, who has helped get Viacom in better financial shape since he was named full-time CEO in December 2016.
CBS announced Monday afternoon that the board would hire "outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation" on accusations that Moonves had sexually harassed female employees over the years. It made no decision on Moonves' fate and pushed back the company's annual shareholder meeting to a future undetermined time.
Given the allegations in Ronan Farrow's New Yorker article and the tensions between Moonves and Shari Redstone, playing out in a still-pending legal battle over control of CBS, Moonves's future as CBS's CEO is questionable at best.
So, how do we get from where we are today to a combined CBS-Viacom, possibly run by Bakish?
There are two likely paths.