Execs eyeing a harder news program at 7 p.m.

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura may not have formally announced his deal with MSNBC to anchor a program, but he may already own a timeslot.

Insiders at the cabler say that Ventura will likely try to wrestle some ratings from Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren and CNN’s Aaron Brown with a 10 p.m. program.

Execs apparently want a harder news program at 7 p.m. (current placeholder is “Countdown: Iraq”), and the 9 p.m. slot belongs to flagship “Hardball.”

There has been speculation that Ventura would usurp Phil Donahue’s 8 p.m. spot, but Donahue — whose all-important demos have started challenging CNN’s “Connie Chung Tonight” since his program moved to a live-aud setting last November — seems to have won a reprieve.

Instead, Ventura’s show will displace “MSNBC Reports.”

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