Glenn Beck Dodges on Plans for New Network

Monday, 28 Mar 2011 08:41 AM

By James Hirsen

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The media message concerning Glenn Beck has really been in flux.

First, reports were widely circulated that the cable host was considering leaving Fox News at the end of his contract and that he would set up a branded cable network or expand his subscription video content on the Web.

Beck’s camp evidently felt the time to respond was now. The host released a statement to the press to counter the story. However, the language used in the statement appears to be painstakingly worded in order to leave his options open.

Beck’s release begins by stating, “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.”

The next sentence, though, sounds like a politician’s crafted answer to a question regarding a presidential run. “I have no intention whatsoever of doing the show I am doing now on Fox anywhere else,” the statement reads.

The reference to the “show” that he is “doing now” could reasonably be interpreted as leaving open the placement of a program that would be different from his present one. In addition, such a program could be aired somewhere other than Fox, perhaps on the Glenn Beck Network or whatever new name Beck comes up with for the cable channel.

Actually, Beck is someone who has no qualms about engaging in media activities other than the “show” that he is “doing now.” He started out as an apolitical morning drive DJ, has authored six New York Times best-selling books and has founded Mercury Radio Arts, a multimedia production company through which he creates content for radio, television, publishing, and the Internet.

Beck has also produced and played multiple roles in a film version of his book, “The Christmas Sweater,” and has toured the country doing his comedy stand-up act.

In 2010 Hollywood decision-makers were being pitched an animated television concept that centered on Beck. He is the third-largest radio talk-show host in the country, and although a handful of stations have recently dropped his show, 88 stations have reportedly picked it up in the past year alone.

Reports had indicated that Joel Cheatwood, senior Fox News exec, may leave the network and join Mercury Radio Arts and possibly head up the new Beck-owned and operated cable channel.

Cheatwood is a key ally and asset to Beck’s career. He was the news director at WMAQ in Chicago, where he experimented by bringing Jerry Springer into the newscast as a commentator. He went on to program CNN’s "Headline News," where he transformed the channel into HLN, making a cable star out of Nancy Grace and a new cable television presence out of a radio talk show host named Glenn. When Cheatwood went to the Fox News Channel, so did Beck.

Beck’s future with the network even came up when Don Imus, currently a Fox Business Channel personality, grilled Fox News host Neil Cavuto on the subject. Imus revealed that he had sent Beck an email asking him about his future but did not receive a response. Imus asked Cavuto to reveal Beck’s post-contract plans.

“He's a great guy. I would love and hope that he can stay here,” Cavuto said. “These are things that, you know, are settled in due course as they say.”


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