Brown ankles ABC for CNN newscast

Anchor to take lead role in breaking news

ABC News’ Aaron Brown will become the face of CNN as the anchor of a new flagship evening newscast for the news cabler.

Brown, anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight Saturday” will also take a lead role in major breaking news and live event coverage and serve as co-anchor during the net’s 2004 election coverage. He will join CNN in late summer.

CNN’s principal anchor Bernard Shaw exited in February after 20 years with the network and was not replaced. Brown is seen as his unofficial successor.

Based in Gotham, the newscast, which is still in the early stages of development, is skedded to launch in the fall. It has yet to be determined how long the program will run or when it will air.

While CNN’s headquarters remain in Atlanta, recently appointed Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner has made it clear that increasing the net’s visibility in New York is priority. “Jeff Greenfield at Large,” which premieres on Monday, will also be broadcast from New York.

The evening newscast will highlight the net’s national and international correspondents. “We want to showcase our bureaus around the world and emphasize distinctive storytelling,” Sid Bedingfield, executive vice president and general manager of CNN U.S., said.

Brown still has another year and a half left on his contract with ABC News, but ABC News prexy David Westin agreed to let him make the move.

“David Westin gave Aaron an opportunity. He wanted to keep him at ABC, but he didn’t want to stand in his way,” said Brown’s agent at N.S. Bienstock, who sealed his deal with CNN.

Since joining ABC News as a correspondent in December 1991, Brown has reported for “World News Tonight With Peter Jennings,” “Nightline” and other ABC News broadcasts. He was founding co-anchor of the overnight newscast “World News Now.” Previously, Brown anchored the evening newscast for CBS affiliate KIRO-TV in Seattle.

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