CNN shifts ‘Dobbs’ to later timeslot

Blitzer's 'Room' to air 4-7 p.m.

CNN is promoting Lou Dobbs into prime access in a scheduling shift that will also consolidate the three hours of “Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer.”

“Lou Dobbs Tonight” moves an hour later to 7 p.m. ET, a timeslot with 9% more potential viewers than his current 6 p.m. slot.

“Hopefully, it will mean a wider audience for the broadcast,” Dobbs told Daily Variety. “As an advocacy journalist, it’s my goal to get the message out to as many people as possible to continue to build our audience.”

Blitzer’s “Situation Room,” which aired from 4-6 p.m. and then for another hour at 7, will now air in a three-hour block from 4-7 p.m.

Dobbs has been a ratings bright spot for CNN. “Tonight” took off last year as he focused his show on his issues: immigration, outsourcing and “protecting the middle class.”

Dobbs is up 14% in total viewers year to date, but appears to have hit a plateau in the third quarter, when total viewers slipped 4% from 2006.

Year to date, Dobbs is averaging 869,000 total viewers at 6 p.m. vs. 1.2 million for Fox News Channel’s “Fox Report With Brit Hume.”

CNN cast the move as a bid to give Dobbs a bigger potential audience and to provide a bigger lead-in for the 8 p.m. hour, in which the net will launch a show with former NBC anchor Campbell Brown in February.

At 7 p.m., FNC’s “Fox Report With Shepherd Smith” has been averaging 1.3 million viewers a night since January. On MSNBC, a repeat of “Hardball With Chris Matthews” has been struggling during the hour, with 416,000 total viewers.