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Could Glenn Beck Be the Next Oprah?

Glenn Beck, one of the most popular commentators in Fox News’ evening lineup, might be facing some new opportunities when his contract is up in December. (As of this past quarter 2011, Beck has lost more than a third of his audience over last year, according to Nielsen.) The Times has already reported that some FNC execs are considering “life without Beck” in 2012, a rumor that has yet to be denied by the network’s all-star publicity team. And this morning the paper’s Brian Stelter lists some of the things Beck is considering, should his relationship with the news channel that helped make him a star finally end. Beck allies say he’s considering expanding his already-growing website even further, adding more original video content (there are several shows already) and beefing up subscription content. Last year Forbes estimated that Beck’s web empire earned him $4 million a year — twice what he reportedly makes at Fox.

But there’s another prospect that Beck has been mulling, one that might be a lot more exciting for his fans and critics alike.

Beck, who has a three-hour morning radio show and one-hour Fox block in the afternoon, could take his dominance of the day among conservatives and expand it to subsume an entire cable network. Sort of like what Oprah Winfrey did with Discovery Health when she turned it into OWN. Think of the possibilities: A more Evangelical — or even Mormon — Fox News! Sure the audience might be smaller, but some of those cable networks thrive on very narrow niches. There are still some problems with this scenario, however, as Stelter points out:

He could schedule his own talk show and the shows of others on one of the many cable channels seeking a ratings jolt. Or, following Martha Stewart’s road to the Hallmark Channel, he could start smaller, taking over a few hours of a channel’s schedule. But a cable channel takeover, even in part, carries enormous risk, as Ms. Winfrey and Ms. Stewart can attest — they have more real estate now, but the ratings comparisons are not favorable. For Mr. Beck, the risk may be heightened by the fact that many advertisers have shunned him on Fox, in part because of a boycott that started after he called President Obama racist in 2009.

You mean the the “Buy Gold!” and elder care industries can’t carry 24-hours worth of programming? (Or even just an hour? Surely that’s not the case. And anyway, how awesome would it be if there was a whole show devoted, Oprah-style, to Glenn Beck Behind The Scenes. The chalkboard cleaning! The cutting out of cardboard heads! The making of missiles out of construction paper! It’d be like watching a kindergarten class, only apocalyptic.

Glenn Beck Contemplates Starting Own Channel [NYT]

Could Glenn Beck Be the Next Oprah?