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CNN ‘Scoping Out New Hosts’ – Prime Time Shakeup Looming?

cnn_12-22With the news that CNN’s Rick Sanchez would host a new show, Rick’s List, beginning in January, some of the changes happening at the network in 2010 are coming to light.

But could more changes be on the way – and with anchors and hosts from outside the network?

In Brian Stelter‘s New York Times write-up about the Sanchez show, he hints at something that hasn’t been previously reported:

Several CNN employees have said in recent weeks that they expect other changes to the network’s programming, given its ratings woes. CNN executives have put feelers out to talent agents recently in an apparent effort to scope out new hosts, but none have been hired.

Although none have been hired, the idea that the network is out there looking to hire new talent is notable, if not surprising. There are already a few late afternoon/pre-prime time changes on the way – Sanchez will host Rick’s List from 3-5pmET, with The Situation Room now airing from 5-7pmET. Then John King will anchor his yet-unnamed show at 7pmET.

But what else? Unlike MSNBC, which is making changes in the new year during daytime hours, CNN’s ratings troubles are more in prime time and less during the day. Adding a daytime host – let’s say to host a 2pmET show to lead into Sanchez’, doesn’t hit the area CNN most needs to improve.

Instead, Stelter’s report raises questions about whether prime time is really secure. Campbell Brown‘s 8pmET program is the show lagging most in the ratings, while Larry King and Anderson Cooper have been in their timeslots for far longer. If there is ultimately a shakeup, it could benefit an anchor from within the CNN family – in the same way King moved from Sunday to the weekdays. This week Ali Velshi is filling in for Brown, while Erica Hill is filling in for Cooper. At 7pmET, CNN Tonight is the temporary program that has seen several fill-in hosts, including Hill and American Morning anchor John Roberts. Will one of the fill-ins get a shot at a regular hour?

Sanchez doesn’t start the new show until January 18 – there’s still time for more CNN New Years resolutions before the schedule is set in stone.

(h/t ICN)

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