Glenn Beck to Leave FOX

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Glenn Beck and Fox News have parted ways. His production company says he will “transition” away from his Fox News show later this year in a recent press release.

Rumors have been swirling around for a while.  In July of 2009, Beck told an audience he “might be going blind.”  The press release arrived today somewhat sooner than expected, being that Beck’s contract with Fox doesn’t end until the end of the year.

Here is a portion of the release, “Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year.

For the 27 months that ‘Glenn Beck’ has aired on Fox News, the program has averaged more than 2.2 million total viewers and 563,000 viewers 25-54 years old, numbers normally associated with shows airing in primetime, not at 5pm. ‘Glenn Beck’ has dominated all of its cable news competitors since launch.”

However, the announcement leaves many questions unanswered.  Whose decision was it to split?  When will Glenn Beck be off the air?  And what is next for Glenn Beck?

The announcement sounds very friendly.  There are many mentions made of Beck’s strong ratings.  And Beck and Roger Ailes, Fox News Channel CEO, are both quoted saying nice things about each other.  Also revealed is the news that Beck’s company Mercury Radio and Fox will continue work together to produce other projects.  This suggests that Fox is aware of Beck’s undeniable influence and is not eager to let go of him entirely.

According to Business Insider, one person who has worked with Ailes before, reveals that when Ailes says, ” I look forward to continuing to work with him” what he is really saying is:  “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Media Matters, who devotes the majority of their extensive anti-Fox coverage to all things Beck, immediately released a statement from founder saying that “The Only Surprise Is That It Took Fox News Months To Reach This Decision.”

So what is going on?  Why is Beck leaving a platform like Fox and why is Fox letting go of Beck’s ratings?  It seems the decision may actually be mutual.  Beck and Fox may be parting ways because Beck had too much power and Fox couldn’t control him.

It’s not exactly a secret that Beck was unhappy with many aspects of Fox’s tightly controlled media machine and was eager to be free of it.

Beck employs his own PR firm outside of Fox’s famous PR team.   It is they, not Fox who deal with Beck’s many public relations.  Glenn Beck, whose office is outside the Fox building, and whose many media holdings put him on track to become some sort of media mogul in his own right, has increasingly been outside of their control.

It’s perhaps not a coincidence that Fox News’ website has been noticeably stepping up its game ever since Beck’s site The Blaze launched last year.

People are very focused on Beck’s loss of advertisers and the bold statements he’s made. So to say this was a mutual decision is likely far more accurate.

Beck has an entire media empire waiting for him and will likely become his own case study in what a new media world might look like once stars become less dependent on traditional cable platforms.  For Fox it means they no longer have to answer for someone who doesn’t like to answer to them.

But when will Beck come off the air?  The details of Beck’s “transition” have yet to be determined and it is uncertain when Beck will depart.

More recently, some have speculated there might even be a “Glenn Beck Channel.”  New York Times says that Beck has options when he leaves. “Two of the options Mr. Beck has contemplated, according to people who have spoken about it with him, are a partial or wholesale takeover of a cable channel, or an expansion of his subscription video service on the Web.”

Will Beck remain on cable television? He is a host of a morning radio show and owner of a website that provides paid subscribers exclusive content. His main concern, according to the Times, is how he will keep his audience. As is the case with media mogul Oprah Winfrey, it hasn’t been easy to keep ratings up with the creation of new channels. The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has suffered in ratings.

Because Beck has an audience based on his website and radio show, he may want to do a hybrid. He is arguably one of the strongest personal brands, and he may do better than a network brand. At any rate, he has options when he leaves Fox News.

Finally who will replace Glenn Beck during the 5pm slot?  Here are 5 people who could replace Glenn Beck:

Megyn Kelly: host of the Fox America Live show,  Shep Smith: a weekday host of two Fox news shows, S. E. Cupp: a conservative writer and commentator with her own show on Mercury Radio Arts,  Charlie Gasparino: a senior correspondent for the Fox Business Network or Judge Andrew Napolitano: who recently landed his own show on Fox Business and has been a regular fill-in for Beck.

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