According to an exclusive report in Variety, executives with the Fox News network are attempting to downplay opinion show hosts like Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson and get potential advertisers to focus on the network’s straight news talking heads to keep advertising money flowing.
With Pirro under fire for offensive comments she made about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) about her religion and Carlson under attack for offensive comments he made about minorities, Iraqis, and women, the network is facing more advertiser boycotts such as the one that almost led to the ouster of host Laura Ingraham after she mocked a survivor of the Parkland shooting.
A list of advertisers currently sponsoring Pirro and Carlson’s shows can be found here.
Variety reports that the network is pitching shows hosted by anchors like Martha MacCallum, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace instead of the inflammatory opinion shows that dominate evening programming.
“A new marketing slogan, ‘America Is Watching,’ has been trademarked and a map of the United States has been created showing that no matter whether the region tilts red or blue politically, Fox News is the most-watched cable-news outlet there – pressing against the notion that the network is only for conservatives,” the report states.
According to a consultant working with the network to hang onto advertisers, shows like the ones hosted by Pirro, Carlson, and mainstay Sean Hannity grab the headlines, but the ostensibly straight news programming is a major part of the network’s appeal.
“The opinion programming is incredibly popular, and steals the bigger part of the headlines,” explained Jason Klarman but “literally more than two-thirds of the millions of people who come in and check out the channel every day are coming for the news programming.”
The report notes that stopping advertisers from fleeing is important as the parent company, 21st Century Fox, is still in negotiations to sell the bulk of its cable and studio assets to the powerful Walt Disney Co.
“The remaining company, known as Fox Corporation will rely on not only Fox News and Fox Business Network, but Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting,” Variety notes, “The Fox News unit has contributed around 20% of the overall company’s operating profit. In a pared-down structure, it might be more. And while many analysts focus on the revenue Fox News derives from affiliates, its ad dollars will also be important after the sale.”
The report goes on to note that advertisers have become more conscious where they spend their ad dollars due to the impact that social media has on accelerating boycotts.
Fox News is undertaking the refocus as “the TV industry is gearing up for its annual ‘upfront’ sales session, when TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming season,” the report adds.
You can read more here.