Bill O'Reilly says historic run at Fox ended over 'unfounded' allegations

Bill O'Reilly says historic run at Fox ended over 'unfounded' allegations

"After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel", Efe news agency quoted the network's parent company as saying in a statement.

O'Reilly's departure was precipitated by a New York Times report earlier this month that O'Reilly, Fox and 21st Century Fox had reached settlements totaling $13 million with five women who had accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse.

Yet the allegations against O'Reilly fit into an uncomfortable narrative for the cable news network. Fox's longtime CEO Roger Ailes resigned abruptly amid similar sexual harassment charges last July. Its leading female star, Megyn Kelly, decamped for NBC in January. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news.

That certainly could happen, though it probably won't be easy.

NY magazine reported Wednesday, based on unnamed sources, that Rupert Murdoch and sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit.

But O'Reilly has been on Fox News for more than two decades. Bill's most recent salary was $20 million per year.

21st Century Fox said earlier on Wednesday that O'Reilly would not return to Fox News after his impromptu vacation, ending weeks of speculation about his future at the outlet.

And the unapologetically conservative Carlson will kick off primetime in the coveted 8 p.m. slot.

"The O'Reilly Factor" has been the most watched program on Fox News and was coming off the highest-rated first quarter in its history, averaging 4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. He thanked his viewers and noted the success Fox had achieved. Even if there's some disruption in ad rates or spots, he said, there's a "massive backstop" in those payments, which are long-term deals.

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It is also unknown if O'Reilly is subject to a so-called "non-compete" clause limiting his ability to appear on other networks.

21st Century Fox now owns 39.1% of Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, and is attempting to purchase the remainder of the company. Its previous effort died in 2011, a casualty of the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers.

The six sources who spoke to CNNMoney described O'Reilly as mean and self-centered, and said he was widely disliked at the company.

Twenty-First Century Fox had tapped the law firm Paul, Weiss Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which also looked into the allegations against Ailes, to investigate O'Reilly's conduct. "This decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel".

In a Wednesday memo to employees signed by all three Murdochs and provided to The Associated Press, Fox again emphasized its commitment to a workplace culture of "trust and respect".

This was significant because O'Reilly and Fox had said that none of the women accusing O'Reilly of improprieties had ever contacted human resources or called the hotline.

"I wish only the best for Fox New Channel".

O'Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard are due to release another book in the "Killing" series in September, and a spokeswoman for publisher Henry Holt and Co. said that plans had not changed.

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