Roger Ailes at Fox News' 15th anniversary party in New York. (2MK)
Last fall, Fox News celebrated its 15th anniversary with a lavish party in New York. Fox News president Roger Ailes, who launched the channel in 1996, toasted 700 or so staffers that night, telling them, "Losing is highly overrated as a learning experience."
On Tuesday afternoon, when Nielsen releases its final ratings for the month of January, the "fair and balanced" network will mark an arguably more important milestone: 10 consecutive years at the top of the cable news rankings.
Yahoo News recently spoke will Bill Shine, Fox News Channel's EVP of programming, about the significance of the achievement, the state of cable news, and how the cable network has managed to sustain its pole position while defending Fox from its fervent critics, including Jon Stewart.
Yahoo News: So, are you going to frame the Nielsen report?
Shine: No, no. We don't do a lot of that around here. We may pat each other on the back, but the news goes on. We'll keep it rolling.
What's been the key to maintaining your no. 1 position in cable news?
A couple of things. Roger's leadership. He had the idea, he launched the network, he hired the talent. So it's been Roger, Roger's vision. Over the years we've gained the trust of the American people. And Roger picked good people, not just on-air, but the producers and everyone behind the scenes who have contributed to our success.
What would you say is the best strategic move the network has made over the last 10 years?
I don't know if I could single out one thing. What happened was—keep in mind, over the course of those 10 years, a lot of news has happened. You had an impeachment, the 2000 election, Bush-Gore, of course 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, hurricanes, Katrina, the D.C. sniper, natural disasters, politics. So there's been a lot of news. Then, what you had happen was, those viewers who came in for the big story stayed to sample our programming. More and more of those people stayed. At the same time, we had a lot of people talking about us, on talk radio and in the news media, the media press, talking about what we do. So it was also about us getting recognized for what we were doing.
Worst move/biggest mistake? There has to be one.
Hmm. That's a great question. [Pause.] I'm not dodging you, but I'd have to think about it. Ask me some other questions and I'll think about it. Everybody makes mistakes. You spend your whole day trying to avoid them, and then own up to them when you do make them.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking about an on-air mistake. I'm talking strategically.
Yeah, not like [the time] we spelled Obama's name wrong.Read More »from Fox News on top: Cable net celebrates 10 years at #1 in ratings