Saturday, May 6, 2017

Report: Immunity Granted For Fox Probe

New troubles for Fox News arose this week as a lawsuit accused it of gender discrimination and one of the women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment said she would appear before the British regulatory group that is assessing 21st Century Fox’s attempted takeover of Sky, the satellite TV giant.

At the same time, a federal investigation into Fox News continues. The inquiry, which began in September, appears to focus in part on settlements made by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, and how they were paid and accounted for internally, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The NYTimes is reporting a former public relations chief for Fox News has been subpoenaed and granted immunity from prosecution, one of the people said. The former executive, Brian Lewis, started at Fox News when it was founded in 1996 and was once considered one of the closest aides to Roger Ailes, the former chairman who was forced out last summer amid a sexual harassment scandal. He was fired in 2013 and left the network with a settlement.

Wendy Walsh
Mark Kranz, the former chief financial officer for Fox News, also was subpoenaed and has immunity, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Kranz, who oversaw the network’s finances when it paid millions of dollars in settlements, was appointed to his position by Mr. Ailes in 2004, and resigned last year, a week after Mr. Ailes had done so.

On Monday in London, KFI 640 AM (Los Angeles) host Wendy Walsh, a former guest on O’Reilly’s Fox News show, and her lawyer Lisa Bloom will meet with the regulatory group, the Office of Communications, or Ofcom.

The meeting is a sign that the sexual harassment scandal that has tarnished Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, in the United States could be taken into consideration by British regulators as they weigh whether to approve the Sky deal. 21st Century Fox currently owns 39 percent of Sky, and acquiring full ownership has long been a goal of the entertainment company’s executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch.

Ms. Walsh has said that Mr. O’Reilly did not follow through on an offer to make her a network contributor after she declined an invitation to his hotel suite in 2013.

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