O'Reilly's departure creates new challenges for Fox

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Glenn Beck has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Bill O'Reilly, declaring that the Fox News Channel is likely in its last days.

It's been less than 24 hours since attorney Lisa Bloom announced she had a new client who phoned in a complaint to Fox News that Bill O'Reilly leered at her and called her "hot chocolate" when no one was around - but he's already off the air and she's declaring victory.

The scandal, which was initially reported by The New York Times, had motivated about 50 companies - including big names such as Mercedes-Benz, Hundai and BMW - to withdraw their advertising from "The O'Reilly Factor", the host's evening programme.

Nearly immediately after the announcement of O'Reilly's departure, Fox released its new, O'Reilly-less lineup, which will start Monday, the day O'Reilly had been scheduled to return from vacation. The Murdochs have not yet announced a decision regarding O'Reilly's future, but one well-placed source told CNNMoney on Tuesday that representatives for Fox and O'Reilly are discussing the possibility of an exit, and the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has reported that they are preparing to cut ties. Now comes the loss of O'Reilly and that puts the network in a rebuilding position.

Mr. O'Reilly is departing two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by him even as sexual harassment allegations against him mounted.

But since reports of the alleged payoffs surfaced, dozens of advertisers, including BMW, have pulled out of the show. Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox were down less than 1 percent at $30.50 in Wednesday afternoon trading.

It "follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel", said Murdoch. The article prompted 21st Century Fox to investigate the host's behavior.

For his part, O'Reilly - who has been on vacation since April 12 - has consistently dismissed such claims, characterizing them as attempts to squeeze money from him.

The letter concluded with an apparent nod to morale problems within Fox News recently.

O'Reilly said he would look back on his time at Fox "with great pride in the unprecedented success" achieved and with "deepest gratitude" to his "dedicated viewers".

O'Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard are due to release another book in the "Killing" series in September, and a spokeswoman for publisher Henry Holt and Co. said that plans had not changed.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed O'Reilly was in the VIP section for the pope's Wednesday appearance.

Francis always goes past the VIP seats at the end of his audience for a quick round of handshakes.

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