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Mercedes, BMW and Hyundai dump O'Reilly Factor amid lawsuits

A poster for O'Reilly's show hangs outside the Fox News offices in New York City Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A poster for O'Reilly's show hangs outside the Fox News offices in New York City

Fox News' most popular show is facing an exodus of advertisers because of sexual harassment claims against its host, Bill O'Reilly.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW are among 22 brands that have pulled commercials following the "disturbing" allegations.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that settlements of $13m (£10.4m) were reached with five women who accused him of inappropriate behaviour.

With four million viewers a night, the O'Reilly show is a ratings juggernaut.

Paul Rittenberg, the head of Fox advertising sales, said: "We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O'Reilly Factor.

"At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other Fox News Channel programs."

On Tuesday night, an advert for Coldwell Banker ran, but the real estate company tweeted afterwards: "We were disappointed that our ad ran on O'Reilly as it wasn't part of our intentional media programming. We pulled future ads from the show."

The other companies are GlaxoSmithKline, Hyundai, Constant Contact, UNTUCKit, Sanofi, Allstate, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition/Rachael Ray Nutrish, T. Rowe Price, Mitsubishi, Wayfair, MileIQ, Lexus, Bayer, Esurance, Credit Karma, True Car, The Wonderful Company, Society of Human Resources Management and Orkin.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Former Fox News contributor Wendy Walsh (R) speaks alongside her lawyer, Lisa Bloom

"As a company in which more than two-thirds of our employees are women, we take sexual harassment claims very seriously," UNTUCKit chief executive Aaron Sanandres said in a statement to the BBC.

Hyundai said it would remove forthcoming ads from The O'Reilly Factor because of the "recent and disturbing allegations".

Image copyright Julie Roginsky
Image caption Julie Roginsky said Fox News denied her a job after she rebuffed Roger Ailes' sexual advances

Mercedes-Benz said it would instead run advertising elsewhere on the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet.

One of Mr O'Reilly's accusers is Wendy Walsh, a psychologist who was once a regular guest on The O'Reilly Factor.

She accused the host of withdrawing a job offer after she declined his invitation to go with him to his hotel suite after a dinner in 2013.

Ms Walsh told CNN on Monday night: "I want to be clear, I'm not after money. I just want a non-toxic work environment for my daughters and their generation."

Her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, said Fox News was the "Bill Cosby of corporate America", in reference to the TV entertainer who is facing multiple sex assault claims.

The president of the National Organization for Women, Terry O'Neill, called for Mr O'Reilly's dismissal.

"Women have the right to go to work without facing harassment. Fox News apparently doesn't get that basic concept," she said.

In a statement over the weekend, 21st Century Fox stood by Mr O'Reilly while adding that it "takes matters of workplace behaviour very seriously".

In a separate development, a Fox News contributor sued on Monday, alleging sexual harassment by its ousted former chairman, Roger Ailes.

Julie Roginsky said she was denied a job after rebuffing sexual advances by Mr Ailes, who founded Rupert Murdoch's TV network.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson won a reported $20m settlement against the network

The legal action, filed in New York, states that Mr Ailes had "volunteered the advice that Roginsky should engage in sexual relationships with 'older, married, conservative men' because 'they may stray but they always come back because they're loyal'".

"Ailes also remarked that he was loyal but that loyalty was a two-way street.

"These comments and their delivery made it clear that Ailes wanted a sexual relationship with Roginsky."

Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Mr Ailes, said Ms Roginsky's allegations were "total hogwash".

In September, Fox News settled with former on-air host Gretchen Carlson for a reported $20m after she alleged she had also been sexually harassed by Mr Ailes.

The network apologised to Ms Carlson for her treatment.

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