Looks like the new top executives at Fox News Channel are going to stay there for some time to come.
21st Century Fox said the two executives recently named to lead its Fox News and Fox Business outlets, co-presidents Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, signed what it said were new “multi-year deals,” positioning them as the new architects of the cable-news outlet’s business and programming strategies beyond the November presidential elections. Exact terms of their contracts could not be immediately determined.
“Jack and Bill have been instrumental in Fox News’ continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance,” said Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, in a prepared statement. “I am delighted they’ve each signed new deals, ensuring stability and leadership to help guide the network for years to come.”
The duo were elevated to their current roles after the ouster of Roger Ailes, the longtime Fox News chairman and CEO who left in the wake of numerous allegations that he sexually harassed women at the network and during other parts of his career. Ailes has denied the charges, but 21st Century Fox recently paid a settlement believed to be around $20 million to former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who filed a lawsuit against Ailes in July.
Both men have worked at 21st Century Fox for years. Abernethy continues as CEO of the company’s Fox Television Stations, and has led Fox News’ strategic and business development. Shine, who started at Fox News as a producer for one of Fox News’ earliest programs, “Hannity & Colmes,” and continues to oversee content. Before Ailes’ departure, Shine had supervised the network’s opinion-based programs, including those anchored by Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. There has been some speculation that Shine may have had knowledge of some episodes of Ailes’ harassment, which he has denied in press accounts.
The pair have new operational challenges with which to contend. The contracts of two of Fox News’ biggest draws, Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly, elapse in 2017. They will have to grapple, as most cable-news networks do in the year after a presidential race, with year-to-year ratings declines, as a larger set of viewers interested in the road to the White House find other pursuits. And they will also have to work to lure a younger audience that is increasingly getting headlines from mobile devices, streaming video and social media.
Some evidence of their plans have already surfaced. Greta Van Susteren, who had been with Fox News for more than a decade in primetime and the early evening, recently left after a contract dispute. Brit Hume, a longstanding Fox News anchor, has taken over her show for an interim period through the election, but has suggested he does not intend to stay beyond that time. On Tuesday, Fox News announced plans for a new Sunday evening program featuring Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt also expected to last through the election cycle. The program is based on a weekly podcast the duo has worked on for several months.