More Changes at CNN

From the Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

More big changes at CNN. A revamped morning show is on the way with prime-time host Don Lemon as one of the anchors. He will be joined by daytime anchor Poppy Harlow and CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

The New York Times’ John Koblin wrote, “The new show represents Chris Licht’s biggest programming move since taking over as CNN’s chairman in May, and it has big implications for the network’s prime-time lineup, too. Mr. Licht is still searching for a host for the 9 p.m. role that Chris Cuomo occupied before he was fired late last year, and he will now need to fill Mr. Lemon’s 10 p.m. hour, too.”

Licht told Koblin, “This demonstrates our commitment to the morning and how important it is to me. The show will set the tone of the entire day, and it will set the tone for the news organization.”

Right now, CNN’s morning show is called “New Day,” and it airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Eastern. The new show will get a new set and a new name. The current morning anchors, John Berman and Brianna Keilar, will take on new assignments at the network. There is no timetable for when the new morning show will debut, but it’s expected to happen before the midterm elections in November.

Interestingly, Licht does have extensive morning programming experience. He was the co-creator and first executive producer of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” And he once worked on “CBS This Morning.”

Koblin wrote, “‘New Day’ has the smallest viewership among the cable news channels in its time slot. On Tuesday morning, Fox News’s ‘Fox & Friends’ averaged more than a million viewers, and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” averaged right around a million viewers. ‘New Day’ drew fewer than half of that. Mr. Licht has said that ratings are not the top priority. If CNN has a strong journalistic reputation, he can attract blue-chip advertisers, he has told associates.”

The more interesting part of this story is what’s going to happen in prime time. The prevailing thought is that CNN, with new owners and Licht now in charge, is trying to become more nonpartisan and straightforward in its coverage. Lemon has never been afraid to voice his opinion on his show, but now he shifts to mornings and we all await to see who fills the anchor seats in the key hours between 9 and 11 p.m. Eastern.

So Lemon still has a job at CNN, but some see moving from prime time to mornings as a demotion. For what it’s worth, Lemon said all the right things in a statement, saying, “it’s time to shake things up. He added, “I was honestly floored when Chris Licht asked me to do this and I’m honored by his belief in me. It’s going to be a thrill to take on this challenge with Poppy and Kaitlan. I’ll get to work with two of my dearest friends. Set your alarms folks, because we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

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