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MSNBC Spikes Three Hours of Afternoon Lineup

MSNBC is canceling three more hours of daytime programming as it works to rechristen itself as a place for hard news, not progressive views, in the hours leading up to the early evening.

Gone are “The Cycle,” “Now With Alex Wagner” and “The Ed Show” as of Friday, MSNBC president Phil Griffin told network staffers in a memo Thursday. Wagner is expected to stay with MSNBC and cover the politics beat as coverage of the 2016 election increases. Ari Melber of “The Cycle” will continue as the network’s chief legal correspondent. Other hosts — Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure — will leave the network, Griffin said.

In February the network spiked programs anchored by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid in favor of a headlines-driven two-hour chunk led by Thomas Roberts.

A new program hosted by “Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd, which has yet to be named, will replace “The Ed Show” at 5 p.m. Roberts is expected to continue to play a role in a new hard-news block that lasts from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m, but other hosts are likely to take part during those hours.

“In the coming weeks, as we complete our plans to create a new look and flow for our dayside programming, our 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. hours will begin the pivot towards live, breaking news coverage — with interim hosts from among our very talented ranks,” the memo stated. “And then, in September, we’ll unveil a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day.”

Brian Williams, the former anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” is expected to join MSNBC in the weeks ahead to serve as an anchor for breaking-news reports. Williams takes the new role after he disclosed falsifying details of past reporting trips he made for NBC News, prompting parent company NBCUniversal to remove him from its flagship evening newscast.

MSNBC has grappled for months with low ratings, forcing the cable outlet to rethink its heavy reliance on analyzing news through a partisan lens. In July, its daytime schedule attracted fewer people in the demographic most coveted by advertisers in news programs — adults 25-54 — than Fox News Channel, CNN or HLN, according to data from Nielsen.

In the recent past, the network had stuck largely to the headlines in the earlier part of the day, from “Morning Joe” to its noon hour anchored by veteran correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

The decision marks an end to the tenure of one of the network’s longest-serving hosts. Ed Schultz has hosted a program on MSNBC since 2009. During his time at the network, the onetime radio host and sportscaster has held forth in early evenings, at 10 p.m, at 8 p.m. and on weekends.

Griffin’s memo to staff follows below:

Team,

I’m writing to share a number of changes we’re making as we build a new daytime lineup with the best live, breaking news coverage on television.

As of this Friday, “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner” and “The Ed Show” will air their final shows.

Alex Wagner will stay with MSNBC and play a key role in our political coverage as we head into the 2016 election. And Ari Melber will continue in his role as Chief Legal Correspondent. But we will be parting ways with some friends – Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC. Please join me in thanking them for their numerous contributions over the past several years, and in wishing them great success.

Beginning in a few weeks, Chuck Todd will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program. That show will air weekdays at 5pm.

I know you read press reports last week speculating about these changes. I hope you can understand that we were not able to confirm at that point because we had not yet finalized many of the decisions I’m sharing with you today, and we hadn’t yet spoken directly with the people involved.

In the coming weeks, as we complete our plans to create a new look and flow for our dayside programming, our 3pm to 6pm hours will begin the pivot towards live, breaking news coverage – with interim hosts from among our very talented ranks. And then, in September, we’ll unveil a 9am to 5pm schedule driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day.

Change can be hard. There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time, but we have exciting opportunities ahead.

 

Phil

 

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