Fox News has cut ties with popular conservative host Bill O'Reilly following allegations of sexual harassment and a loss of advertisers. It has been reported that he paid five women millions of dollars to keep quiet.
Star cable news anchor Bill O'Reilly will not be resuming his position as host of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," announced 21st Century Fox on Wednesday.
The move comes following an April 1 report from the "New York Times" that O'Reilly and Fox News paid $13 million (12.2 million euro) to five different women over a period of 15 years, settling sexual harassment suits and allegations of inappropriate conduct. The women were paid in exchange for their silence and an agreement not to sue.
"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," 21st Century Fox said in a one-sentence statement on the matter.
The combative, conservative host is currently on what he calls a "long-planned break," but had intended to return to his show on April 24. O'Reilly, who was photographed on Wednesday shaking hands with Pope Francis in Rome, has denied any wrongdoing.
Following the report on the harassment allegations, several major companies pulled their advertising from the show, including German carmakers BMW and Mercedes Benz.
President Donald Trump, an avid Fox News viewer who has also been accused of sexual harassment, leapt to O'Reilly's defense following the "New York Times" report, calling him "a good person."
Fox News said on Wednesday that "Tucker Carlson Tonight" will begin airing an hour earlier to fill O'Reilly's now-vacant slot.
Sexual harassment at Fox News
According to the report, the five women who received settlements either worked for O'Reilly or appeared as guests on his show.
A group of women demonstrated outside Fox News' headquarters on Tuesday and another woman, who was a former clerical worker at Fox, called a harassment hotline to accuse the 21-year Fox veteran of inappropriate behavior.
The 67-year-old's long-running show was the most-watched cable news program in the United States, averaging around 4 million viewers.
"The O'Reilly Factor" reportedly brought Fox more than $178 million in ad dollars in 2015 and $118.6 million in the first nine months of 2016.
O'Reilly's departure follows the ouster of Fox News' former chief Roger Ailes, a close confidante of the company's founder Rupert Murdoch, also over sexual harassment charges.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) has called for an independent investigation to be conducted into the "culture of sexual harassment" at Fox News.
rs/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)