Megyn Kelly, who arrived at Fox News 12 years ago as a television news neophyte but rose to become one of its two biggest stars, has decided to leave the network to take on a broad new role at NBC News for an undisclosed amount, people briefed on the negotiations said on Tuesday.
The NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, wooed Ms. Kelly away from Fox News by offering her a triple role in which she will host her own daytime news and discussion program, anchor an in-depth Sunday night news show and take regular part in the network’s special political programming and other big-event coverage.
The move will herald a seismic shift in the cable news landscape, where Ms. Kelly had become the second-most watched host — after Bill O’Reilly of Fox News — and often helped define the national political debate, especially over the last year as Donald J. Trump regularly attacked her, at times in viciously personal terms.
Ms. Kelly’s departure would upend Fox News’s vaunted prime-time lineup and inject a new dose of tumult just a few months after the departure of the network’s powerful founding chairman, Roger Ailes, who was ousted after several women made allegations that he sexually harassed them.
The new deal, which NBC is expected to announce imminently, brings to a close the most anticipated television news contract negotiations since Katie Couric signed with CBS News in 2006, for $15 million a year.
Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, which is controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch, had offered Ms. Kelly more than $20 million a year to stay after her current contract expires this year. Rival networks seeking to hire Ms. Kelly away, including NBC News, had made it clear that they could not match that money from Fox, the cable news leader for the last 15 years running.
Ms. Kelly’s contract is not officially up until the summer, and it was unclear whether Fox News would refuse to release her from any contractual commitments that might delay her start at a rival.
People briefed on the talks, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity pending an announcement, declined to disclose what Ms. Kelly’s new annual salary would be at NBC. But even a modest raise would place her among television’s highest paid journalists. The Wall Street Journal recently reported she was to collect $15 million for the final year of her contract.
It was unclear at what time the daytime program would run, or how NBC News would ensure that all of its affiliates would carry it, given that daytime television is often filled with syndicated programs. But people familiar with the discussions said NBC was confident that it would not be a problem. The daytime program would be a mix of news, interviews and panel-like discussions covering a range of issues, not only government and politics.
The Sunday night program, which is yet to be named, would provide Ms. Kelly with a continued hand in hard news. And she would be in the mix on NBC News during major political coverage.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Kelly, Leslee Dart, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the deal.
Ms. Kelly had hinted in interviews and in her recently released memoir, “Settle for More,” that the highest bid would not decide her future; she said she was seeking a role that would give her more time with her three young children while allowing her to extend her range beyond the constant political combat of cable news.
Source: The New York Times | JIM RUTENBERG