EXCLUSIVE: Fox News Channel’s signature news anchor Shepard Smith has signed a new multi-year  deal to continue as the channel’s lead news anchor as well as anchor of FOX Report and Studio B. Smith’s most recent pact with Fox News inked in 2007 was for 3 years and nets him $7 million-8 million a year. Fox News is expected to announce Smith’s re-signing this afternoon. Smith, who is a guest on The View today to talk about midterm election coverage will also probably address his new contract on the ABC talk show where his Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly recently made headlines with his visit.

Smith is one of Fox News’ original stars, having joined  the channel at its inception in 1996 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. For the past 11 years, he has anchored FNC’s signature 7 PM newscast The FOX Report with Shepard Smith since, which has dominated its time slot for more than 100 consecutive months, averaging 1.8 million viewers. He has covered such news events as Hurricane Katrina; the Middle East conflict, 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Columbine school massacre and President Clinton’s impeachment.

UPDATE 12PM: Fox News just officially announced Smith’s new deal. Here is the network’s release:

FOX News Channel (FNC) has re-signed Shepard Smith to a new multi-year deal where he will continue as the network’s lead news anchor, announced Roger Ailes, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, FOX News. In making the announcement, Ailes said, “Shep is a rare journalist whose signature style leads the news industry while embodying the traits of great newsmen of past generations. His talent, passion and dedication to journalism is unmatched and we’re proud that he’ll continue in this role for many years to come.” Smith added, “I look forward to my future at FOX News where Roger’s commitment to journalism has allotted me the freedom and resources necessary to execute the only one-hour newscast in cable news.”

Joining FNC at its inception in 1996, Smith anchors The FOX Report with Shepard Smith, which has served as the network’s signature evening newscast at 7pm since its debut in 1999.  Under Smith’s direction, the program has been number one in its timeslot for more than 100 consecutive months, averaging 1.8 million viewers a night, and routinely beats CNN and MSNBC combined, according to Nielsen Media Research.  In addition to his weeknight newscast, Smith anchors the afternoon news program, Studio B, which also ranks number one in its timeslot. During his tenure at FNC, Smith has reported from both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention for the 2008 presidential race.  Additionally, he notably covered the approaching Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath from his native region; the Middle East conflict from the Israel-Lebanon border; 9/11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan; Operation Iraqi Freedom; the Columbine school massacre, and President Clinton’s impeachment and trial. He was one of only two television correspondents to witness the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in June of 2001.