September 24, 2017

The Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly Renews Contract

Ms. Van Susteren, who signed a long-term contract this week, according to her husband, John Coale, may move out of the 10 p.m. time slot that she has held since 2002. That would open up the hour for Ms. Kelly, now an afternoon anchor, who has long been mentioned as a candidate for a prime time position.

Mr. Coale, a lawyer who represents Ms. Van Susteren in contract negotiations, said he was not aware of any impending scheduling changes. But in a brief telephone interview on Tuesday, he suggested that she would happily move to an earlier hour, perhaps sometime later this year.

Mr. Coale learned in December that he had cancer. (Ms. Van Susteren wrote a blog post about his condition in February, after he had surgery; she did not specify what type of cancer he had.) He is recovering now, he said on Tuesday, and, “I’d like to spend some quality time with my wife, at least before 11 p.m.” He emphasized that he was speaking for himself, not for Ms. Van Susteren, who declined to comment when reached via e-mail.

A prime time change would be, by Fox News scheduling standards, seismic; the channel has had a remarkably consistent lineup of hosts and shows, much to the chagrin of competitors like MSNBC and CNN, which have not. Fox also has its two biggest stars, the 8 p.m. host Bill O’Reilly and the 9 p.m. host Sean Hannity, under contract for several more years.

A Fox spokeswoman, asked to confirm the new deals for Ms. Kelly and Ms. Van Susteren, said, “We will neither confirm nor deny any contract discussions.” Several other people with knowledge of the situation said that Ms. Kelly had renewed her contract. Some of her fans congratulated her on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon after reading about it online.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because contract talks are usually conducted in secret.

Although some contract renewals are mere formalities, Ms. Kelly’s was not; her future has been the subject of media speculation since late last year. She met with the heads of at least two other television networks. But she decided to stay at Fox News, where she has hosted the two-hour afternoon program “America Live” and co-anchored special reports on election nights for the last three years.

She was widely noticed on election night last year when she walked through the corridors of Fox and asked the channel’s voting analysts about Karl Rove’s assertions that the channel had called Ohio for President Obama prematurely. They, not surprisingly, defended their decision. The moment became a viral hit and bolstered Ms. Kelly’s personal brand as a part of Fox’s news side, not its opinion side.

Not long after that, the chief executive of Fox News, Roger Ailes, acknowledged that “a lot of people will try to recruit her” when her contract came due.

In an interview with TVNewser, Mr. Ailes said, “We’d love her to stay here and be even a bigger star.” He added: “I’d be stunned if she wanted to go to any other cable channel. That’s a real dive off a high cliff. If somebody wanted her to host the ‘Today’ show or something, she’d have to look at that, I suppose.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Kelly spoke with other channels, including CNN, which was very interested in hiring her, according to one of the people who spoke on condition of anonymity. Her representatives also sought a number of meetings with executives at ABC, stirring speculation that she might be in contention for a spot on “Good Morning America.” But “G.M.A.,” the newly No. 1 network morning show, led by Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, has a rather full bench at the moment, and ABC’s conversations with Ms. Kelly went nowhere.

Ms. Kelly’s 1 to 3 p.m. program was watched by an average of 1.1 million viewers in the first quarter of the year, slightly more than the programs before and after it. Prime time hours are more coveted than daytime hours because they generally have higher ratings; Mr. O’Reilly, for instance, attracted nearly three million viewers a night in the first quarter.

But Ms. Van Susteren’s 10 p.m. program, “On the Record,” has been a sore spot on the channel’s schedule. The program had an average of 1.43 million viewers in the first quarter. In the demographic that matters most to advertisers, viewers ages 25 to 54, Ms. Van Susteren attracted 250,000 a night, only 35,000 more than her competitor on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell. At the end of the quarter, MSNBC said in a news release that Fox’s “On the Record” had recorded its “worst quarterly performance ever.”

Still, as Ms. Van Susteren has noted on her blog as recently as last month, the show “has been No. 1 for 11 plus years” among total viewers, a winning streak that has few parallels in the news industry.

One of the people with knowledge of the situation cautioned on Tuesday that “nothing’s decided.”

Another person noted that no change was imminent because Ms. Kelly is pregnant with her third child. She said in February that her baby was due this summer.

Mr. Ailes, meanwhile, has one other contract negotiation coming up this year. Shepard Smith, the channel’s 7 p.m. host, has a deal that expires at the end of the year, according to TV Guide. In an interview last month, Mr. Smith said he had had no contract talks yet, but he also said: “I love it at Fox News. I love working for Roger Ailes. I want to do what’s best for everybody involved.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/business/media/fox-news-anchor-megyn-kelly-renews-contract.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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