Fox News has parted ways with its top presenter Bill O'Reilly over sexual harassment claims. Pressure on the network has mounted since several reports uncovered that a number of women had received 13 million dollars in payouts because of O'Reilly's behaviour.
More than 50 sponsors have also pulled out from his prime-time show, The O'Reilly Factor.
The presenter has denied all of the allegations.
Murdoch touts O'Reilly's accomplishments
O'Reilly's show, "The O'Reilly Factor," is the top-rated show on Fox News. According to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media, it brought in $147.13 million in advertising revenue in 2016. By comparison, Twenty-First Century Fox’s last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2016, brought in a total of $7.65 billion in advertising revenue.
"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.
In an internal memo to Fox News employees, Twenty-First Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch called O'Reilly "one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news."
Murdoch also wrote the company is committed to "fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect."
O'Reilly, who has been off the air on vacation since April 11, said in a written statement he was proud of the "unprecedented success" at Fox.
"It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today," O'Reilly said in the statement, which was emailed by crisis communications expert Mark Fabiani.
The New York Times reported on April 1 that Fox and O'Reilly paid five women a total of $13 million to settle harassment claims. The five women who received settlements either worked for O'Reilly or appeared as guests on his program, according to the New York Times story.
O'Reilly said in a statement at the time that he had settled only to spare his children from the controversy.
But after the New York Times report, advertisers including BMW of North America, Allstate Corp, French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi SA and T. Rowe Price , pulled their advertising from O'Reilly's show.
O'Reilly's exit, which was first reported by New York magazine, follows that of former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign in July after being accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
O'Reilly will be replaced in his prime-time lineup by Fox host Tucker Carlson. Carlson's show had been moved earlier this year to replace "The Kelly File" with Megyn Kelly, another Fox News star who left for NBC in January.