Bill O’Reilly won't be back at Fox News
Media giant 21st Century Fox on Wednesday announced the ouster of Fox News television host Bill O"Reilly amid accusations of sexual harassment presented against him.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was fired on Wednesday over the multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him. He’s the network’s biggest star, and his loss will likely be a major blow to Fox—but so was the exodus of advertisers from his program after the allegations arose.
O'Reilly's firing comes after media outlets reported in early April that the outspoken conservative TV host and 21st Century Fox had paid up to $13 million since 2002 to five accusers so that they would not pursue their harassment lawsuits.
The scandal, which was initially reported by The New York Times, had motivated about 50 companies - including big names such as Mercedes-Benz, Hundai and BMW - to withdraw their advertising from "The O'Reilly Factor," the host's evening program, as reported in EFE.
Activist groups such as the National Organization for Women have been bringing pressure to bear for weeks on the firm to fire O'Reilly in a case that NOW said became emblematic of the "culture of sexual harassment at Fox News" and requires an "immediate independent investigation."
Both the self-proclaimed "no-spin" host and the network always claimed that the accusations were completely unfounded, but they agreed to pay a six-figure sum to one complainant in exchange for her silence and promise not to take the matter to court, according to The Times.
O'Reilly's attorney claimed on Tuesday that his client - a long-time conservative media icon - had been the target of a "smear campaign" financed by leftwing activist organizations.
Fox News is trying to ride out a scandal that erupted last summer, when the network's former reporter and talk show host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against then-news director Roger Ailes, who ended up resigning last July.
Up to four million viewers watched "The O'Reilly Factor" each evening, making it the most-watched cable TV program in 2016. The O’Reilly-free future for Fox News will be a unprecedented test of its ability to dominate the cable landscape without its leading man, as reported in The Altantic.
O'Reilly himself earned about $18 million a year from Fox News, but his show generated nearly $450 million in advertising revenue for the company between 2014 and 2016, according to estimates from the market-research firm Kantar Media.
In his first four days of vacation, viewership for O'Reilly's substitutes declined 23 percent. And the value of an anchor like O’Reilly is not only in the audience for his time slot, but also the spillover effect for later shows. If O’Reilly’s viewership craters, it could hurt audiences in the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. slots, sapping revenue from O’Reilly’s former slot and those around it.