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article imageMore than 20 advertisers drop O'Reilly over sex harassment claims

By Arthur Weinreb     Apr 5, 2017 in Business
At least 21 advertisers have pulled their ads from Fox News Channel's O’Reilly Factor after the New York Times revealed Fox paid five women $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against host, Bill O’Reilly.
On Monday, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai were the first companies to withdraw their commercials aired on The O’Reilly Factor. Pulling the ads followed a report published by the New York Times on Saturday. The Times set out the amount paid to five women who claimed the program’s host had sexually harassed them. A condition of the settlement prohibits the parties from discussing the facts of the claims.
As reported by People, money was paid by either Fox or O’Reilly to five women to settle sexual harassment claims. These women included former O’Reilly producers and on-air Fox personalities. The women either worked or appeared on The O’Reilly Factor.
There may not be a lot of financial fallout for the Fox News Channel and its parent company, 21st Century Fox. Many of the advertisers are merely switching their ad dollars from O’Reilly’s show to other FNC programs. But, as the Times reported, The O’Reilly Factor generated $446 million in revenue between 2014 and 2016.
Paul Rittenberg, VP of advertising sales for FNC, said they are working to address concerns about The O’Reilly Factor. He also said many of the companies are still willing to advertise on other Fox News programs.
The withdrawal of the advertising came quickly after the sexual harassment claims and settlements were reported by the New York Times. Companies who advertised on the FNC program were subjected to severe backlashes on social media.
A statement issued by Mercedes-Benz said while the facts of what actually happened are not clear, the allegations are “disturbing.” The company went on to say women are a large part of their business and the program is not a good environment to advertise their products.
Hyundai said they had upcoming advertising scheduled to appear on the program and are now allocating it to other Fox News Channel shows. Like Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai found the allegations "disturbing" and said they want to partner with those who share their values of inclusion and diversity. Hyundai added the company is monitoring the situation.
Other companies that have pulled their ads from The O’Reilly Factor issued similar statements.
21st Century Fox said they take allegations of workplace and sexual harassment seriously and have reviewed the allegations against O’Reilly. Nevertheless, O’Reilly’s contract which is set to expire at the end of the year was renewed.
On Monday's and Tuesday’s shows, O’Reilly did not address either the sexual harassment allegations or the withdrawal of sponsors for his program. The host had said in the past there is no merit in any of the allegations and he settled the claims for the sake of his children. He claims his position makes him vulnerable to lawsuits and said he is a target for those who want to harm him and Fox News.
As Variety reports, most of the breaks on last night’s program consisted of promos for Fox Business Network. Yet ads did appear for AT&T, Home Depot and Voya, a financial firm.
Other major companies that have pulled their ads from The O’Reilly Factor include Bayer, Lexus, Allstate, BMW of North America and Mitsubishi. Other advertisers are expected to follow suit in the coming days.
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