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More advertisers say they have ditched Fox's O'Reilly show

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By TALI ARBEL
AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Bill O'Reilly's top-rated Fox News show may be starting to feel a financial sting after allegations that he sexually harassed several women.

A dozen major advertisers, ranging from automakers Hyundai and BMW, to financial firm T. Rowe Price, insurer Allstate and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, have pulled their ads from "The O'Reilly Factor."

The moves come after a weekend report in The New York Times that O'Reilly and his employer paid five women $13 million to settle harassment or other allegations of inappropriate conduct by Fox's star.

O'Reilly is Fox News' top revenue producer, according to research firm Kantar Media, bringing in over $178 million in ad dollars in 2015 and $118.6 million in the first nine months of 2016.

Fox News itself makes up one-fifth of parent company 21st Century Fox's profit, according to estimates from Anthony DiClemete, a media analyst with the Nomura investment bank.

The advertiser boycotts, however, are likely manageable for Fox, said Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser in a note Tuesday.

Wieser noted some advertisers had already decided to stay away following the sexual harassment scandals of the network's departed head, Roger Ailes, and newly concerned companies will wind up on other Fox News programs. Even if O'Reilly were forced to leave the network if the scandal broadened, the channel's brand is bigger than its hosts, he said.

The other companies pulling ads Tuesday were automaker Mitsubishi, personal finance site Credit Karma, drugmaker Sanofi, pet food company Ainsworth, men's shirt seller Untuckit, and online marketing firm Constant Contact. They joined Mercedes Benz, which said Monday it was backing away from O'Reilly's show.

Hyundai said it currently has no ads on "The O'Reilly Factor," but it pulled spots on future episodes. The automaker said it wants to partner with companies and programming that share its values of inclusion and diversity.

BMW said it suspended advertising on the show due to the recent allegations, as did T. Rowe Price, Sanofi, Ainsworth and Constant Contact. Allstate said support for women is a company value and it had also suspended advertising on the show.

GlaxoSmithKline said it had "temporarily put a hold" on ads on O'Reilly's show while it reviews the situation.

A Mercedes-Benz spokesman said Monday night that the company had pulled ads from O'Reilly's show and reassigned them to other Fox News shows. Sanofi and Untuckit have the same plan. BMW said it wasn't sure where it would place its ads instead.

In a statement, Fox News said that advertisers who pulled their ads would be directed to the network's other programs.

__

AP Autos Writer Tom Krisher contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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