April 19, 2017 Last Updated 1:55 pm

Media Odds & Ends: 21st Century Fox confirms Bill O’Reilly exit; Student paper to go glossy

Morning Brief: Time Inc. sale on hold for now as board of directors awaits earnings, and stock price remains above $18, well above the level it traded for back in November

The Bill O’Reilly melodrama looks to be reaching a climax, even as Billo was in line to meet the Pope while on his Italian vacation. “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agree that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

In the end, it was the power of advertising that brought down the king of cable news channels. Advertisers abandoned Fox News over the allegations of unwanted sexual advances, something that was easier to occur than when Roger Ailes was in the news as a single program could be targeted.

Many media reporters have made the mistake of assuming that the long list of advertisers pulled their ads from the network – untrue, most simply had their schedules altered to avoid the show. The ad agencies placing the ads, and the network itself, had a joint interest in making sure the ads stayed on air, so long as the brands could say that they had been pulled from The O’Reilly Factor. But no network will put up with having a prime time show devoid of ad spots for long, and so O’Reilly would have to go (with presumably Tucker Carlson filling the slot, at least for now).

With O’Reilly out, nothing much else really will change at the network. Its slant on the news is less determined by the hosts than by the Murdochs themselves.

But Fox News viewership skews older, whiter, and that will one day be a problem. According to Nielsen, the median age of a primetime Fox News viewer is 68. CNN’s viewership is also older, just not that old (59). The only reasons advertisers cling to the network is that it dominates the category, and has a virtual monopoly on conservative vierers. But the category itself might become irrelevant as younger viewers cut the cord.

New York Magazine, Gabriel Sherman:

Sources: Fox News Has Decided Bill O’Reilly Has to Go

The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him…

…Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.

The New York Times, Emily Steel, Michael Schmidt and Jim Rutenberg:

Bill O’Reilly’s Future at Fox Grows Dim as the Murdochs’ Support Erodes

Women inside the company have questioned whether the company was serious about fixing a workplace culture beset by repeated allegations of sexual harassment. And calls for his dismissal grew louder Tuesday…

…A lawyer for Mr. O’Reilly, Marc E. Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres, said Tuesday that his client was being targeted by liberal groups trying to bring him down. “Bill O’Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America,” he said in a statement. “This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons. That evidence will be put forth shortly, and it is irrefutable.”

It was interesting to see Keith Kelly at the NYPost reaching the same conclusion I did regarding Time Inc.: that a sale is unlikely at this time as the board is likely to use its next earnings report has an excuse to hold off.

Meredith made this decision a little easier by not coming in with a can-refuse offer, but Meredith was wise to bid what it thought appropriate and not get too caught up in the M&A fever.

Right now Time Inc. shares are trading above $18, and the board wanted to see something above $20 a share. But at the start of last November shares were trading just above $13 a share.

The student newspaper at University of Nebraska-Lincoln has decided to shutter its twice weekly print newspaper and begin publishing a monthly magazine instead. A vote of the Publications Board members approved the move on Tuesday.

The move feels right to me. The paper, which is run independent of the University’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, has a robust looking website that likely provides the journalists working at the paper a better place to hone their skills.

“I don’t look at it as abandoning the newspaper, it’s just a different approach,” said David Thiemann, who is director of sales and marketing for the paper.

Of concern to some opponents of the move is the added costs producing a glossy magazine may produce. Concerning to me is that they didn’t already have that figured out before making the decision. Like many newspaper and magazine executives today, they appear to have decided to do something without a budget or forecast in place.

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