Fox News drops O’Reilly

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NEW YORK (AP) The Fox News Channel is dropping powerhouse host Bill O'Reilly in the wake of accusations he had harassed women.

21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "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.

He had been scheduled to return from a vacation next Monday.

O'Reilly' who's on vacation, was photographed Wednesday in Rome shaking Pope Francis' hand.

It marks a stunning end to a near perfect marriage between a pugnacious personality and network.

For two decades O'Reilly has ruled the "no spin zone" with cable news' most popular show, and his ratings had never been higher.

New York magazine reported earlier Wednesday, based on unnamed sources, that Rupert Murdoch and sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit.

The New York Times reported April 2 that five women had been paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about unpleasant encounters with O'Reilly, who has denied any wrongdoing.

The Fox News Channel says "Tucker Carlson Tonight" will begin airing an hour earlier to fill the time slot vacated by O'Reilly’s departure.

Starting Monday, Carlson's show will be followed at 8 p.m. by "The Five," relocating from its afternoon slot.

"The Five" will be replaced at 4 p.m. by a one-hour program hosted by Eric Bolling, to debut May 1.

Next week, "Special Report with Bret Baier" will fill the 4-to-6-p.m. timeslot.

At 6 p.m., Martha MacCullum remains in place.

The departed O'Reilly's "The Factor" will continue through this week with Dana Perino hosting Wednesday and Thursday night, and Greg Gutfield on Friday.

Rounding out the Fox prime-time lineup, "Hannity" remains at 9 p.m.