1. Roger Ailes
Chairman and CEO of Fox News
Last year’s rank: 1
Why he was chosen: The most-watched cable news network for five years running, Fox News has its killers’ row of brand-name personalities who know good television when they make it. It becomes big news when Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera pick an intramural fight, going toe to toe and index finger to index finger over illegal immigration.
The first quarter of the year saw a pernicious ratings erosion stop for the first time in months. Prime-time ratings were up 8 percent. New cable carriage deals that triple Fox’s subscriber fees also ensure distribution of Fox Business News when it launches later this year.
The channel’s signal, digital in the rest of the country, will be analog in New York City to guarantee that Time Warner Cable will pipe it in to Wall Street offices in the business capital of the world. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006, parent company News Corp. reported its cable network revenues had increased $13 million year-to-year to $275 million, primarily reflecting increased contributions from the Fox News Channel. FNC’s operating income grew 25 percent, primarily from higher affiliate revenues and additional subscribers.
Four-year-old Fox News Radio is now at 650 affiliates and counting and has beefed up its D.C. bureau with a reporter assigned to the White House.
For the first time, Fox News has appointed an outsider to develop programs for the news and business channels: Joel Cheatwood, the man who has turned more than one TV newsroom around with a tabloid spin. Not only does the recent hire bring together two men, Mr. Cheatwood and Mr. Ailes, who don’t like boring news, it reunites Fox’s leading hard-news anchor, Shepard Smith, with his former news director at Miami’s WSVN-TV.
Now, if Fox News could just manage to stage a Democratic debate that key candidates would not boycott.