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MSNBC Moves Ali Velshi to Weekend Mornings in Schedule Shake-Up

MSNBC is reworking its Saturday and Sunday schedules, giving Ali Velshi a morning program and adding Alicia Menendez to the roster.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable-news outlet will pluck Velshi from its weekday schedule, and give him a morning program that stretches from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The move opens up the weekday 3 p.m. hour and breaks up the on-air team that leads “Velshi & Ruhle” at 1 p.m. David Gura, who currently anchors “UP” on Sunday mornings, will instead anchor “MSNBC Live” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The new schedule is slated to launch in 2020.

“Going into 2020, there won’t be any slow news days. Our investment in weekends continues to be a priority for us,” says Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC.

The news outlet has for the past few years worked to build its weekend lineup as the national news cycle has grown more intense. As recently as 2017, MSNBC would fill Saturdays and Sundays with hours of the prison documentary series “Lockup.” No longer, though MSNBC continues to rely on repeats of its weekday primetime shows to fill many of its weekend evening hours.

Yet there has been steady investment in new weekend programming, with new anchors added to daytime hours. MSNBC in October of 2017 launched “Kasie DC,” a Sunday evening program with Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt. Joy Reid, Alex Witt, Rev. Al Sharpton, Richard Lui, Kendis Gibson, and Lindsey Reiser will all continue to lead various slots on weekends.

MSNBC has other reasons to beef up weekends. CNN wins more weekend viewers among the audience most desired by advertisers, people between the ages of 25 and 54, and all of its Sunday-morning hours outperformed MSNBC’s in that demographic in 2019, according to data from Nielsen. MSNBC wins more viewers overall on weekends.

Velshi’s new program will lead into Joy Reid’s “AM Joy,” MSNBC’s highest-rated weekend program. Velshi, who will split his time between New York and a teaching gig at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, will continue to fill in for MSNBC’s primetime anchors during the week.

Menendez, the daughter of U.S. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey,  will host two weekend shows, one at 4 p.m. on Saturday and another at 6 p.m. on Sunday. She is a former co-host of PBS’ “Amanpour & Company,” and has logged stints at HuffPost Live and Fusion. She joined MSNBC in October, with the network saying at the time her duties would be announced at a later date.

MSNBC said more details around weekend programming would be revealed in coming weeks.

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