Fox News Channel marks 15 years, still the underdog

Mon Oct 3, 2011 3:44pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Fox News Channel marks its 15th anniversary this week having changed the face of television news in the United States, yet still considering itself an underdog.

With its colorful graphics, news alerts, scrolling text, big personalities, fast pace and punditry, Fox News established a style that since 1996 has spawned many imitators along with plenty of controversy.

But it's a brand that many Americans have warmed to. Fox News Channel, part of Rupert Murdoch's giant News Corp media group, now towers over its cable news rivals, with some 1.9 million average viewers in primetime. That is double the combined audience of CNN and MSNBC, according to the most recent Nielsen media ratings.

Fox News also boasts the leading five cable news programs with outspoken Bill O'Reilly at the top of the pile with about 2.9 million nightly viewers for his "The O'Reilly Factor."

"Fifteen years ago our graphics were something you had never seen before. They were moving, changing colors, bigger than everybody else. Our sets were big and bright and vibrant," said Bill Shine, Fox News Channel's senior vice president of programming.

"The American people were shocked at the beginning, but then they kind of liked it," Shine told Reuters.

Yet Shepard Smith, anchor of evening newscast "The Fox Report" and afternoon news and interview program "Studio B," said the channel is not resting on its laurels.

"We think of ourselves as the underdog. We know we have to be faster and smarter and quicker. We know we are out-manned and out-gunned, so we have to out-think our rivals everyday," Smith told Reuters.   Continued...