Friday, June 30, 2006

Ailes Cracks Whip as Fox News Slips

By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/26/2006 8:59:00 AM

Slackers at Fox News Channel, you’re on notice! Your boss is not pleased. Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is on the warpath following his network’s recent ratings slump, and he won’t hesitate to clean house to turn things around.

So far during the second quarter, the No. 1 cable news channel’s primetime schedule has dropped 22% in its core 25-54 demo and 8% in total viewers. The first quarter was even worse.

Chief rival CNN has also dipped in recent weeks, but less dramatically, off 18% in the demo and 2% in total viewers.

Insiders say that, even though Fox News remains No. 1, Ailes is fuming over the complacency he senses among staffers.

Production values are slipping, and bookers aren’t competitive enough, relying too heavily on the same pool of faces and settling for authors or actors after they’ve already been on CNN or … gasp … MSNBC.

A full-page "Now Hiring" ad that ran recently in a trade magazine asked, "Can you make the cut?" Says one Fox staffer, that question was not addressed to outside applicants: "That was aimed inside."

Commenting through a spokesman last week, Ailes left no doubt: "Anyone who displays launch-type intensity will continue to have a job at Fox News. Those who don’t will not. And that includes talent."