Fox News sets Jan. 6 as Megyn Kelly's last show

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Fox News Channel has already been grappling with a period of transition for the company following the abrupt departure of Roger Ailes in the summer amid the cascade of sexual harassment allegations. Now the network is facing a void in its top-rated primetime lineup with Megyn Kelly's pending exit for NBC.

Fox News said Tuesday Kelly would end her 12-year run at the network on Jan. 6.

SEE ALSO: Megyn Kelly breaks her silence on her FOX News departure

"We thank Megyn Kelly for her 12 years of contributions to Fox News. We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best," Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

Murdoch, who took over Fox News after Ailes' departure in August, and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch declined an interview request.

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Megyn Kelly through the years
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Megyn Kelly through the years
Fox News host Megyn Kelly greets the crowd before interviewing Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at Calvary Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. (Travis Long/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Megyn Kelly -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: Megyn Kelly (C), Darth Vader and Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion attend New York Philharmonic's Spring Gala, A John Williams Celebration at David Geffen Hall on May 24, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for New York Philharmonic)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly attends the 142nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0470 -- Pictured: Journalist Megyn Kelly during an interview on May 12, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Megyn Kelly attends the 'Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Douglas Brunt and Megyn Kelly attend the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
MEGYN KELLY presents: Megyn Kelly (R) and Donald Trump (L) during the FOX special 'MEGYN KELLY presents' airing Tuesday, May 17 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FOX via Getty Images)
MEGYN KELLY presents: Megyn Kelly (R) interviews Michael Douglas (L) during the FOX Special MEGYN KELLY presents airing Tuesday, May 17 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FOX via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: Journalist Megyn Kelly attends Variety's Power Of Women: New York 2016 at Cipriani Midtown on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Megyn Kelly attends the 7th Annual Women in the World Summit Opening Night at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on April 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly waits to begin the Republican presidential candidate debate at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Candidates from both parties are crisscrossing Iowa, an agricultural state of about 3 million people in the U.S. heartland that will hold the first votes of the 2016 election on Feb. 1. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28: Moderators Chris Wallace (L) pats on the shoulder of Megyn Kelly (2nd L) as they wait with Bret Baier (R) for the beginning of the Fox News - Google GOP Debate January 28, 2016 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Residents of Iowa will vote for the Republican nominee at the caucuses on February 1. Donald Trump, who is leading most polls in the state, decided not to participate in the debate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Megyn Kelly appears on ABCs 'Good Morning America,' Friday, February 5, 2016. 'Good Morning America' airs Monday Friday (7-9am, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) MEGYN KELLY
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0411 -- Pictured: (l-r) Journalist Megyn Kelly during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on February 4, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Megyn Kelly appears on ABCs 'Good Morning America,' Friday, February 5, 2016. 'Good Morning America' airs Monday Friday (7-9am, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) MEGYN KELLY
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: News anchor Megyn Kelly speaks onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit - Day 2 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: TV personality Megyn Kelly attends the 2015 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Megyn Kelly attends the 2014 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 080 -- Pictured: (l-r) Political commentator Megyn Kelly during an interview with host Seth Meyers on July 31, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Megyn Kelly attends at the benefit concert for Army SPC Bryan Dilberain at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on April 27, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 19: Kid Rock with host Megyn Kelly visits FOX's 'America Live' at FOX Studios on June 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Fox anchor Megyn Kelly prepares for the Fox News/Google GOP Debate at the Orange County Convention Center on September 22, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The debate features the nine Republican candidates two days before the Florida straw poll. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: Megyn Kelly, host of America Live on set at Fox News studios in New York. Fox News Channel celebrated its 15th anniversary on the air on October 7th.
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The upheaval at NBC News and Fox News caused by Kelly's decision was the talk of the town among TV news insiders Tuesday. Sources predicted a difficult period of sorting out the ramifications of her decision for both Kelly's new home and her alma mater.

In the near term, there was industry speculation about Tucker Carlson possibly getting the nod to fill Kelly's spot at 9 p.m. The host has pulled in solid numbers since taking over the 7 p.m. slot in November and Fox leaders are said to be happy with his work on "On the Record." The 7 p.m. hour was left vacant earlier this year when longtime Fox News host Greta Van Susteren left Fox News amid the Ailes shakeup. Van Susteren, meanwhile, is rumored to be relocating to MSNBC.

Kelly's fate at Fox News in the past few months had become a big drama for the company as her contract negotiations played out in public. Rupert Murdoch even went public in an interview with the Wall Street Journal expressing his desire to keep her in the fold and offer to meet the $20 million annual salary that she sought. It was no secret that some of Kelly's colleagues at Fox News were critical of her growing celebrity status, which was stoked in recent months by the Ailes headlines and the promotional blitz for her book "Settle For More."

Now that Kelly is exiting, Fox News faces a nightly void in the crucial 9 p.m. time period. Kelly's "The Kelly File" ranks as the second-highest rated program in cable news behind "The O'Reilly Factor," hosted by Bill O'Reilly (who is also up for contract renewal this year). Kelly launched the show in October 2013. She first joined Fox News in its Washington, D.C. bureau in 2004.

The shakeup comes at a time when CNN has made inroads against Fox's long-dominant position in cable news, particularly in the adults 25-54 demographic and during the heat of the presidential election. The unpredictability of the 2016 presidential race boosted the fortunes — and competitive fervor — of the Big Three news cablers.

Fox News ended 2016 as the most-watched cable network in total day (with an average of 1.4 million viewers, up 29% from 2015) and primetime (2.4 million, up 36%). In primetime, Fox News nosed ahead of ESPN to rank just behind the Big Four broadcasters for the first time in Fox News' 20-year history.

Amid all this momentum, industry sources speculate that Fox News may see some moves at the top management level soon. Rupert Murdoch's appointment as chairman was seen as a temporary decision amid the leadership crisis created by Ailes' ouster in the wake of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.

A new leadership configuration, whether a shuffle among existing insiders or a new recruit to take the helm, would come in at a time to define the next generation of Fox News' personality roster.

Sources said Fox News in the post-Ailes era has become focused on taking steps to age down the network, which has a median age of viewers that is around 68, according to Nielsen. That could fuel renewed efforts to groom younger talent.


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