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On a company earnings call Wednesday morning, Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley threw water on one of the hottest rumors in media industry gossip circles: that the right-leaning broadcaster wants to scoop up free agent Bill O’Reilly.
“We get approached by people all the time, which is probably where these reports were coming from,” Ripley told analysts. “He did approach us. We do not have any interest in hiring him.”
A spokesperson for Sinclair confirmed Ripley’s comments, saying, “Our CEO stated definitively that we have no interest in hiring Mr. O’Reilly on our earnings call this morning.”
As recently as last week, NBC News reported that O’Reilly was negotiating a deal with Sinclair, though a company spokesperson told CNN at the time that “Sinclair is not in discussions with Mr. O’Reilly.”
So, while there hasn’t really been meat on the bones of this story, it hasn’t stopped the industry from speculating about a potential partnership. O’Reilly has indicated some interest in returning to television, but has said he would only do it for a broadcaster that reaches a big audience. Sinclair is slated to reach an even larger audience once the company’s acquisition of Tribune Media goes through.
A representative for O’Reilly has not yet returned a request for comment about Ripley’s comments.
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