Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Reports this week that Joel Cheatwood, a senior Fox News executive, would soon join Mr. Beck’s growing media company, Mercury Radio Arts, were the latest indication that Mr. Beck intended to leave Fox, a unit of the News Corporation, when his contract expired at the end of this year.
Notably, Mr. Beck’s company has been staffing up — making Web shows, some of which have little or nothing to do with Mr. Beck, and charging a monthly subscription for access to the shows.
Were Mr. Beck to set off on his own, it would be a landmark moment for the media industry, reflecting a shift in the balance of power between media institutions and the personal brands of people they employ.
It is possible that Mr. Beck and Fox could agree to a new contract. But his relationship with the channel has been fraught from its earliest days in 2009, and lately both sides have been anonymously sniping at the other.
Asked on Tuesday whether Fox News intends to renew his contract, a Fox spokeswoman said, “it’s not up until December” and declined to comment further.
Mr. Beck declined an interview request about his future plans, but through a spokesman, he provided a statement. “Roger Ailes has built the most important voice in America today — Fox News — and it is an honor to do my show there every night,” he stated. “I have no intention whatsoever of doing the show I am doing now on Fox anywhere else.”
Mr. Beck has been contemplating a cable channel of his own for more than a year, according to the people who have spoken with him about it, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr. Beck may not be able to actively pursue such an arrangement until his Fox contract is up.