April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Glenn Beck, the controversial Fox News host, is leaving his daily talk show to produce new programs for the channel.
Fox News and Beck’s production company, Mercury Radio Arts, will develop projects for the network, cable television’s most-watched news channel, and its website, the companies said today in a statement.
Beck’s ratings have fallen from a year ago, when he ranked among the 40 most-watched cable shows. In the first quarter of this year, he attracted an average of 1.95 million viewers, down 29 percent from a year earlier, according to Nielsen Co. data. He averaged 464,000 viewers in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic that advertisers target, a 35 percent drop.
Later this year, Beck, 47, plans “to transition” off the program, the third most-watched daily news series on cable, according to the network. Joel Cheatwood, senior vice president of development at Fox News, is joining Mercury Radio Arts on April 24 to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison.
News Corp., the New York-based parent of Fox News, fell 21 cents to $17.56 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The Class A shares have climbed 21 percent this year.
Media Matters for America, an advocacy group backed partly by billionaire George Soros, a target of Beck’s, applauded the change on its website.
“After losing more than 300 advertisers and seeing more than 1 million viewers abandon his show, the only surprise is that it took Fox News months to reach this decision,” David Brock, founder of Media Matters, said in a website posting.
Attacks on Democrats
Beck has been criticized for his attacks on Democrats, including President Barack Obama, The Washington Post reported today. The talk-show host has also targeted Soros, linking the billionaire to Nazi atrocities in Soros’s native Hungary during World War II, the Post said. Beck’s comments about Soros last fall drew denunciations from Jewish groups.
Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox News, praised the departing host in a statement.
“Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards,” Ailes said in the statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Beck’s show airs at 5 p.m. New York time. In the current season, Fox News is averaging 465,000 prime-time viewers in the targeted age demographic of 25 to 54, down 17 percent from 558,000 year earlier according to Nielsen data. MSNBC, part of Comcast Corp., averages 260,000 and Time Warner Inc.’s CNN is averaging 214,000.
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