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Fox dumps embattled host over harassment allegations
20 April 2017, 06:20 | Jodi Jackson
Both O'Reilly and Ailes have vehemently denied the allegations against them.
Fox News Channel's parent company fired Bill O'Reilly on Wednesday following an investigation into harassment allegations, bringing a stunning end to cable news' most popular program and one that came to define the bravado of his network over 20 years.
Since April 11, the host has been on a vacation in Italy, where he shook Pope Francis' hand on Wednesday. More than 50 advertisers withdrew from his prime-time show, and 21st Century Fox asked a law firm to investigate a complaint from a woman who said O'Reilly dropped efforts to make her a contributor in 2013 after she turned down his invitation to visit his hotel room.
His exit came nine months after his former boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.
O'Reilly, who learned of his employer's decision while awaiting a flight back to the United States, did not take participate in the discussions with the Murdoch family, which controls Fox and 21st Century Fox.
"I understand how hard this has been for many of you", Rupert Murdoch said in a memo to Fox staff.
Up to four million viewers watched "The O'Reilly Factor" each evening, making it the most-watched cable TV program in 2016 and generating $446 million in ad revenues for Fox between 2014 and past year, according to a study carried out by Kantar Media.
The former top-rated cable news host said in a statement, "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims". He thanked his viewers and noted the success Fox had achieved.
Whether O'Reilly's absence from Fox will change the direction of the conservative movement, Jon Fleischman, conservative blogger from Orange County said mostly not.
As of Wednesday evening, the network had already removed O'Reilly's name from the show's title.
Dana Perino, who has been filling in for O'Reilly since he announced an extended break earlier this month, announced that he was no longer with the network. And you, his audience, responded in record numbers, making "The Factor" the number one cable news show for more than 16 years. "Half of the fun that they have with their audiences comes from watching the outrage that they manage to provoke".
Even with O'Reilly gone from Fox, Sesno said he doubts that the public appetite for his brand of "angry, high-decibel" chatter will give way to a new regard for civility.
"The O'Reilly Factor" generated $178 million in advertising revenue in 2015, according to Kantar Media. There was the prospect of even more, with his audience larger in the first three months of 2017 than it has ever been.
With a profit centre gone, 21st Century Fox stock fell nearly 1% on Wednesday in heavy trading.
O'Reilly's pugnacious personality wasn't just an onscreen affectation, with one of the settlements going to a woman who complained about being shouted at in the newsroom.
Smith also called on the cable news ratings leader to "release all employees from the mandatory arbitration and confidentiality clauses" in their contracts, which she says "have silenced women and kept the harassers, enablers and retaliators in place".
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