Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has parted company with Bill Shine, the co-president of Fox News Channel, who becomes the latest figure to leave the network since it was rocked by a damaging sexual harassment scandal.
Mr Murdoch said Mr Shine, who has worked for the network since its launch 20 years ago, had resigned and would leave the company after helping with a managerial transition. “This is a significant day for all at Fox News,” he said.
Mr Shine’s departure comes two weeks after Bill O’Reilly, the star Fox News presenter, was dismissed following an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. Roger Ailes, the channel’s former chairman, was fired last summer over similar allegations.
21st Century Fox declined to comment on Mr Shine’s departure beyond a prepared statement but a person briefed on the decision said the company had concluded Fox News needed new management and a fresh approach.
It also announced several new appointments, with Suzanne Scott promoted to president of programming for Fox News and Jay Wallace, executive vice-president of news, promoted to run the news division. “Suzanne and Jay are recognised industry leaders,” Mr Murdoch said. “They will lead Fox News to an even more successful future.”
Mr Murdoch has been running Fox News on an interim basis since Mr Ailes was pushed out but the new management team at the network will try to turn the page on the harassment scandal which has made Fox News headline news for several weeks.
21st Century Fox has also taken steps to ensure that complaints to Fox News’ human resources division can be referred quickly to the channel’s parent company. Kevin Lord, executive vice-president of human resources, will take on additional duties as head of compliance, reporting directly to Gerson Zweifach, 21st Century Fox’s chief corporate counsel.
It is unclear whether Mr Shine’s departure will be welcomed by Fox News’ on-air talent. Four days ago Sean Hannity, who presents a prime time show on the network, tweeted that somebody within Fox News was “trying to get an innocent person fired.” He added that if Mr Shine were to leave “that’s the total end” of Fox News “as we know it”. He also created a Twitter hashtag: #IStandWithShine to show his support.
Fox News continues to lead its rivals with record ratings that rose to new heights last year on its coverage of the presidential election. Ratings have continued to be buoyant into the first months of the Trump administration.
However, the network is still the subject of a federal investigation into concealment of payments to women who complained of harassment. Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in the southern district of New York have subpoenaed witnesses with at least two of those individuals, including Mark Kranz, a former Fox News chief financial officer, offered immunity in return for their testimony.
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