The chief executive officer of Sinclair Broadcast Group said the company is not in talks with former Fox News Channel anchor Bill O’Reilly, throwing cold water on reports that the two might launch a program similar to the anchor’s now-canceled “O’Reilly Factor” at some point in the near future.
“He did approach us. We do not have any interest in hiring him,” said Chris Ripley, chief executive of the large TV-station owner, which is expected to Tribune Media once it has secured regulatory approval.
Both NBC News and CNN had recently reported Sinclair was potentially eyeing O’Reilly to anchor a possible program that could run multiple days each week. One of the suggestions was that O’Reilly could appear on WGN America, a cable network operated by Tribune.
“Our CEO stated definitively that we have no interest in hiring Mr. O’Reilly on our earnings call this morning,” a Sinclair spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday.
Sinclair executives are said to be concerned about advertiser reaction to O’Reilly, according to a person familiar with the matter. Many Fox News Channel sponsors made that network move their commercials to other parts of its schedule after learning of revelations that O’Reilly had made several big settlements to women who had accused him of sexual harassment or other unwanted behavior. In O’Reilly’s final days on Fox News’ schedule, only a handful of advertisers supported the program, which added more time for content.