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Shares in CBS tumbled when the reports of the misconduct allegations began to circulate around noon Friday, as investors anxious that Moonves might be forced to step down.

One of the accusers is actress Illeana Douglas (Six Feet Under), who reportedly alleges she was sacked from a 1997 pilot after refusing Moonves' advances which included "violent kissing" and holding her down on his office couch.

The article makes Moonves, a distinguished executive who transformed CBS into a ratings victor, one of the most powerful American men implicated in the #MeToo era that ignited a year ago after the career implosion of Harvey Weinstein.

Writer Janet Jones describes how Moonves "threw himself on top of [her]" and tried to forcibly kiss her back in 1985.

He said he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone's career.

He transformed CBS over the past two decades, building it into a ratings powerhouse - it has been the No. 1 network in total viewers for 10 consecutive years. Moonves's assistant, she said, had left the desk outside his office before the meeting began, something she noticed after she left.

The women allege that Moonves used his position of power to sabotage their careers. The commission, chaired by Anita Hill, was formed in response to sexual misconduct and assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and others in the entertainment industry. Four of the women described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, it said, while two said Mr Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.

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Although Moonves' behavior is the headline of the New Yorker story, the latest report by Farrow also delves into the network's culture and its role in enabling bad behavior like that of ousted "CBS This Morning" host Charlie Rose. She claims that after she pushed Moonves away, he said, "People's reputations are very important".

In May it emerged that CBS managers had been warned about Rose's conduct on three occasions, as early as in 1986 and as recently as in April 2017.

Moonves' wife, Julie Chen, who he has been with since 2004, defended her husband. She told Farrow she recalled Moonves unlocking the door from his desk or a nearby bureau, and said his assistant had left.

The article also reported that 30 current and former employees said other inappropriate behavior happened elsewhere at the company, including CBS News and its flagship program "60 Minutes".

CBS owns the CBS TV network, cable network Showtime and the publisher Simon & Schuster.

"While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members", the statement continued.

A CBS board committee in May turned down the potential merger with Viacom and sued to strip National Amusements of its control of CBS. In its statement Friday, the CBS board said that it will "continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners". The company's second-in-command is chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello, who does not have a track record as the head of a large media company.