CBS fires two news executives as abuse probe continues

Two broadcast executives at ViacomCBS have been fired several weeks after the company began investigating claims of abusive behavior, including racism, at some of its owned-and-operated local television stations.

The firings of Peter Dunn and David Friend were announced to employees in an e-mail sent on Tuesday.

Dunn was previously employed as the president of the company’s local television stations unit, while Friend worked as the senior vice president of news for the same group.

The executives oversaw broadcast and news operations at nearly two dozen CBS stations that are owned and operated by ViacomCBS. In January, the two were suspended after the Los Angeles Times reported on an alleged pattern of racist and abusive behavior by each man toward lower-level television station employees.

Some of the allegations were revealed in legal complaints filed by an employee who was fired after being subjected to the abuse, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.

Immediately following the newspaper’s report, ViacomCBS announced a probe into the allegations and placed both executives on suspension.

The harassment and abuse investigation continues, and a senior ViacomCBS executive instructed local station employees to contact an outside firm with any additional information about the suspected incidents.

“This entire process, while sometimes painful and emotional, is an important step forward in living up to our promise of a safe, inclusive, respectful and equitable workplace for all of us,” George Cheeks, the top executive in charge of CBS Entertainment, wrote in the e-mail, a copy of which was published by the industry gossip blog FTV Live.

Bryon Rubin will temporarily assume responsibilities that were previously assigned to Dunn, while Kim Godwin will take over Friend’s role in the interim, Cheeks said. It was not clear if Rubin or Godwin were being considered as permanent replacements for Dunn and Friend.

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