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04 May 2017

Fox News sexual harassment scandal: Co-President Bill Shine resigns

Fox News & sexual harassment allegations

Fox News Co-President Bill Shine has resigned from his position, indicating the turmoil triggered by the 2016 sexual harassment scandal involving former Chairman Roger Ailes continued.

Though he is not accused of sexual harassment, he has been forced out for allegedly abetting Ailes in tolerating a workplace hostile to female employees.

He is facing criticism over handling harassment claims and failing to act appropriately.

In context

Fox News & sexual harassment allegations

Public Housecleaning?

Allegations pressure Fox news into painful public housecleaning

Shine's departure comes nearly ten months after Roger Ailes was removed in the wake of a string of harassment allegations that pressured Fox News owners, the Murdochs, into a painful "housecleaning."

Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch called Shine's resignation "a significant day for all at Fox News."

Less than two weeks ago, popular host and commentator Bill O'Reilly was ousted following numerous sexual harassment allegations.

Rupert Murdoch's statement

Rupert Murdoch stated: "Bill has played a huge role in building Fox News to its present position as the nation's biggest and most important cable channel in the history of the industry. His contribution to our channel and our country will resonate for many years."

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Fox News: String of sexual harassment allegations

Following Fox News anchors Gretchen Carlson and Megan Kelly's separate sexual-harassment lawsuits against him, the then Chairman Roger Ailes was forced to resign in Jul'16.

In Aug'16, former employee Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit against Bill O'Reilly, Scott Brown, and Dean Cain.

In Apr'17, New York Times reported O'Reilly and Fox News settled five lawsuits for $13 million against him dating back to 2002.

O'Reilly allowed to "thrive" despite harassment allegations

New York Times reported Fox News allowed O'Reilly to thrive even as sexual harassment allegations and settlements added up. The women who received settlements for lawsuits include Rachel Witlieb Bernstein (2002), Andrea Mackris (2004), Rebecca Gomez Diamond (2011), Laurie Dhue (2016), and Juliet Huddy (2016).


A series of huge departures

Last month's sacking of Bill O'Reilly from Fox News is the most significant departure in the American news history after the departure of his boss Roger Ailes last year.

The remarkable departure of Bill Shine, who ran Fox News with Ailes for 20 years, is the third huge departure within nine months.

Reports suggest senior anchor Sean Hannity could be the next to go.

Sky Acquisition

Will the sexual harassment scandal affect acquisition of Sky TV?

Whether the current events at Fox are going to affect British communications regulator Ofcom's judgment on the Murdochs' bid to own 61% of UK-based Sky TV is to be seen.

Investigations are on to ascertain if Fox withheld settlement payments over sexual-harassment.

The scandals' timing threatens to affect Ofcom's assessment of Sky's acquisition, which is in-the-long-grass until the UK General Election on 8 June.

Ratings haven't suffered so far

Notably, Fox's ratings have not suffered despite the scandal. Significantly, the advertising boycott following the revelations around Bill O'Reilly also has not dented the revenues. Fox is swiftly and decisively moving in eliminating toxic individuals, showing its extreme alertness to potential reputational and commercial damage.


Future of Fox News up for grabs

Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch would have hated New York Times for Bill O'Reilly's departure as their investigation revealed payments made to harassment complainants.

With federal probes into the payments, a bigger drama is predicted that could further intensify as Ofcom decides whether to approve Murdoch's bid for Sky.

Observers say Fox News's future is "up for grabs" and the UK regulators are watching.

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