Fox News Still No. 1, and Spending Less Money to Stay There

By Chris Ariens Comment

The Wall Street Journal catches up with several Fox News anchors and network chief Rupert Murdoch following a year of tumult at the network.

It was a year ago this week that former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued network co-founder and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment which opened the flood gate to other harassment and discrimination lawsuits and the departures of some of the network’s biggest names.

“At the same time we were covering the most tumultuous election we had ever seen we were also going through a lot of tumult here,” Martha MacCallum tells the WSJ’s Joe Flint. “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for everybody.”

Flint reports that since Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren, co-president Bill Shine and others have departed in the last year–either by their choosing, or by management’s–the company is spending less money, while remaining the most-watched network on all of cable TV.

[Tucker] Carlson’s average audience in the 8 p.m. hour since succeeding Mr. O’Reilly is 5% smaller than what “The O’Reilly Factor” was averaging, according to Nielsen. But Mr. Carlson is besting Mr. O’Reilly’s performance among the desirable demographic of adults 25 to 54, enabling him to earn $14,100 per 30-second ad slot, a 21% jump over his predecessor’s rates a year earlier, according to ad-tracking firm Standard Media Index.

Furthermore, Mr. O’Reilly had a deal that paid him $25 million a year while Mr. Carlson makes significantly less, a person familiar with the matter said. Likewise, in the 9 p.m. hour, “The Five” is less expensive than “The Kelly File,” the person said.

“We’re all pretty much focusing on the very interesting show that’s happening in Washington rather than the show that is happening here at work,” said MacCallum.

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