Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:51AM
This AFP file photo taken on April 5, 2016 shows television host Bill O’Reilly
This AFP file photo taken on April 5, 2016 shows television host Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly, the powerful host at Fox News for over 20 years, has been forced out of his prime-time position amid a series of sexual harassment allegations against him.

21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, announced Wednesday that O’Reilly will not be returning to his position as host of the “The O’Reilly Factor,” a political commentary program which had aired since 1996.

"After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel," 21st Century Fox said in a statement.

His departure is a significant blow to Fox News, which has dominated the prime-time cable news ratings in recent years.

The decision to force out O’Reilly, 67, came after dozens of advertisers abandoned his highly rated program amid a barrage of sexual harassment allegations.

Among the companies that confirmed they were suspending or cancelling ads from the news network were international automakers, insurance firms, drugmakers, marketing companies and apparel sellers.

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O’Reilly’s departure was a stunning reversal for a company that had long stood by him and considered him the network’s top asset.

But even after the ouster, some employees said they were skeptical about whether the treatment of women at Fox News would actually change.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that O'Reilly had a history of sexual harassment cases that had been covered up by Fox. 

The announcement comes at a difficult time for Fox News, whose former chairman Roger Ailes was forced to resign last year after a sexual harassment lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.

On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the New York City offices of Fox to demand the cable network fire O’Reilly, whose career has been dogged by scandal.

The allegations against the blustery showman go back to at least 2002. During his tenure at Fox News, he was accused of sexual harassment by at least seven women who worked for him or who appeared on his show.

By April 2017, O'Reilly and Fox had paid out more than $13 million to five of these women, who claimed they were victims of lewd comments, verbal abuse or unwanted sexual advances.