Sinclair Broadcasting, poised to become the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, and Bill O’Reilly may be considering whether they can work together, according to reports from CNN and NBC News.
These reports suggested the two might be poised to put the former Fox News Channel anchor back on the air via a regular program that could appear if Sinclair’s $4 billion bid for Tribune Media is approved. If the merger moves forward, Sinclair would take control of Tribune’s WGN cable network. Should the two reach an agreement, O’Reilly could well return to a new kind of “O’Reilly Factor.”
Sinclair told both outlets it was not currently in discussions with O’Reilly. A spokesman for O’Reilly, Mark Fabiani, said he had no comment on the matter at this time.
O’Reilly, who parted ways with Fox News earlier this year after advertisers began pulling commercials from his show following the disclosure of settlements made by him to women who accused him of sexual harassment, is under new fire. On Saturday, the Times reported that O’Reilly personally reached a settlement in January with former Fox News legal analyst, Lis Wiehl, for $32 million, a fee far larger than previously disclosed settlements. In February, Fox News set a long-term contract with O’Reilly that included a huge salary boost, to $25 million a year from around $20 million under his previous deal.
On Monday, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly made a recent disclosure by The New York Times that 21st Century Fox had renewed his contract the center of the opening segment on her NBC News morning program, “Megyn Kelly Today.”
O’Reilly and UTA, which is under contract to represent him until the end of the year, are not slated to renew their agreement, according to a person familiar with the matter. Fabiani, the O’Reilly spokesman, said the anchor has found new representation.