Former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly contacted Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. (SBGI) - Get Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Class A Report about working for the TV station group, but CEO Chris Ripley said his company isn't interested in hiring the longtime ratings leader of cable TV news.
"We get approached by people all the time, which is probably where these reports were coming from," Ripley said Wednesday, Nov. 1, on a conference call with investors. "He did approach us, but we do not have any interest in hiring him."
O'Reilly has been looking for a new job ever since he was forced out of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Class A Report in April following a report by The New York Times that either he or Fox News had paid at least five women a total of $13 million in exchange for agreeing not to sue or talk publicly about allegations related to sexual and physical harassment.
More recently, the Times reported that in January, O'Reilly agreed to make a $32 million sexual harassment settlement with a longtime network analyst, also to quiet allegations of sexual or physical harassment. Fox executives have acknowledged knowing of the latest settlement but not its size before the company offered the anchor a four-year, $100 million contract extension.
Sinclair Broadcast, which is pushing to win regulatory approval of its $6.6 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co. (TRCO) - Get Tribune Media Co. Class A Report , has long been rumored to be interested in expanding into political news. The company, famous for its conservative politics, had seemed like a potential landing place for O'Reilly, who has shown no inclination to want to retire from political commentary. He currently produces No Spin News, a subscription podcast.
If Sinclair obtains regulator approval to acquire Tribune Media, the company would nearly double its national reach as well as acquire the cable-TV network WGN America. Sinclair observers have speculated for months that the company, which has made no mistake of its preference for Republican officeholders and conservative politics, would change the network's programming.
In a government filing Oct. 5, Sinclair said it may launch some new digital networks, adding to speculation that the company based outside of Baltimore aims to get deeper into content. Iver the summer, Sinclair increased the on-air presence of Boris Epshteyn, the former Trump campaign adviser and White House aide that the broadcaster hired in April as its chief political analyst. Epshteyn's commentaries, often in support of President Trump, were increased to eight or nine times a week from roughly three times.
Critics, including many Democrats, charge that Sinclair's history of partisan politics should disqualify it from acquiring Tribune's TV-stations, which would afford the company entry into large markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago where it hasn't had a presence. For years, Sinclair has produced so-called must-carry programming that its stations are required to broadcast. Sinclair has contended that such material is a small amount of its output.
Sinclair shares were falling 3.8% to $30.50 on Wednesday after reporting third-quarter earnings that missed analyst expectations.
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