(Bloomberg) -- Bill O’Reilly, who was ousted Wednesday from his top-rated TV show on Fox News over allegations of sexual harassment, is set to receive as much as $25 million for agreeing to leave the company, according to a person familiar with the matter.
O’Reilly, one of the highest-paid TV anchors, struck a new deal this year that paid him $20 million to $25 million, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The new contract limited any severance to one year’s salary rather than the total due for the full term, the person said, without specifying how much the host is getting.
“Obviously it is not optimal but it is good it is being dealt with and we believe Fox News will continue to be an important channel to its viewers,” said Brett Harriss, an analyst at Gabelli & Co., which holds millions of shares of 21st Century Fox Inc., the parent of Fox News.
The payout to O’Reilly, 67, may only be part of the cost Fox bears as its most-recognizable news personality departs. While the fallout from the departure of a single host will be limited, the company has already seen advertisers abandon his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” and the network will suffer further if viewers also leave.
With one of the the most loyal audiences in TV, Fox News has maintained its lead in the ratings race despite an internal crisis that began last year when co-founder Roger Ailes was accused of sexual harassment, leading to his ouster from the network he helped create. The network has pummeled CNN and MSNBC in the ratings since the presidential election in November.
O’Reilly has been the network’s most popular personality for much of its 21 years and the most-watched cable news host as well.
The payout is less than the $40 million 21st Century Fox had to pay when Ailes departed last year.
Fox News has already announced schedule changes to address the hole O’Reilly’s departure creates in the network’s lineup.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” will move into O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. time slot, Fox News said in a statement Wednesday. He had occupied the 9 p.m. spot that Kelly previously had. A non-prime-time program, the roundtable talkshow “The Five,” will begin airing at 9 p.m. O’Reilly’s show will continue for the rest of the week with guest hosts.
Class A shares of Fox rose as much as 2.44 percent Thursday to $31.13.