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Glenn Beck To 'Transition Off' Fox News Program

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UPDATE: Glenn Beck opened his Wednesday show by confirming that he would be ending it later this year. To watch the video of Beck's confirmation, click here.

ORIGINAL POST: Fox News and Glenn Beck announced Wednesday that Beck will "transition off of his daily program" later this year.

In a joint news release, Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Beck's production company, said that they will "work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News' digital properties."

Beck, the statement said, would "transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year." It is not clear what the programs will be, or how many of them there will be.

Joel Cheatwood, a senior Fox News executive who Beck hired away to his own company, will serve as the main liaison between the two networks. A source at Fox News told the Huffington Post in March that Mercury was playing a "dangerous game" by allegedly leaking the news of the hire to the media.

Both Beck and Fox News have been publicly hinting that a split could be forthcoming. One month ago, the New York Times reported that Fox News was "contemplating life without" Beck. Later that month, Beck told his radio listeners that, no matter what happened, they would "continue to find each other."

The announcement ends months of speculation about whether or not Beck would continue his Fox News show when his contract was up in December. Beck has drawn high ratings and huge attention to his time slot and to the channel, but he also became a lightning rod, drawing frequent and furious criticism for some of his most controversial statements, and causing widely-reported tension behind the scenes at the network. Over 400 advertisers also stopped airing their commercials on Fox News during Beck's hour.

Still, Beck's television show allowed him to increase his profile substantially. Also, more than many other television hosts, Beck has a very large media empire of his own to fall back on and build up. His radio show is the third-highest rated in the country, he has written many best-selling books, and has a large and devoted fan base, many of whom read his websites and subscribe to his online "Insider Extreme" service. Forbes magazine estimated that Beck made $32 million last year—only $2 million of which came from Fox News.

The full release appears below:

NEW YORK-- FOX News and Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck's production company, are proud to announce that they will work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the FOX News Channel (FNC) as well as content for other platforms including FOX News' digital properties. Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year.
Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of FOX News said, "Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody's standards. I look forward to continuing to work with him."

Glenn Beck said, "I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and FOX News. I cannot repay Roger for the lessons I've learned and will continue to learn from him and I look forward to starting this new phase of our partnership."

Joel Cheatwood, SVP/Development at FOX News, will be joining Mercury Radio Arts effective April 24, 2011. Part of his role as EVP will be to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison with FOX News.

Ailes said, "Joel is a good friend and one of the most talented and creative executives in the business. Over the past four years I have consistently valued his input and advice and that will not stop as we work with him in his new role."

"Glenn Beck" is consistently the third highest rated program on cable news. For the 27 months that "Glenn Beck" has aired on FOX News, the program has averaged more than 2.2 million total viewers and 563,000 viewers 25-54 years old, numbers normally associated with shows airing in primetime, not at 5pm. "Glenn Beck" has dominated all of its cable news competitors since launch.

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