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CNN Resets Its Late-Afternoon Slate

5/15/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Cable News Network’s new president is starting to put his stamp on the channel, revamping its afternoon schedule by launching a solid three-hour block anchored by Wolf Blitzer.

This summer, the new, not-yet named block will air from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and replace the last half hour of Live From…, Inside Politics, Crossfire and Wolf Blitzer Reports.

While hosted by Blitzer, the block will feature all of CNN’s talent covering stories from the worlds of politics, business, national and homeland security and world affairs, CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein said in a memo to staff.

“It’s going to be a more engaging way to present the news,” Klein said during an interview last week. “It’s going to help us to showcase more of the outstanding reporters that we’ve got all over the world, because all of a sudden, you’re not trying to shoehorn them into a narrow slot; it expands a producer’s mind to envision an entire afternoon of programming.”

CNN had announced back in January that it was canceling Crossfire, and Inside Politics anchor Judy Woodruff recently said she will retire in May.

Klein, a broadcast veteran, said he wants to simplify CNN’s programming for viewers.

“I’m struck by a few things about the world of cable out of broadcast, one of which is it’s incredibly hard for viewers to keep track of the schedule,” Klein said, noting the myriad of shows on different cable outlets.

He’s banking that the afternoon three-hour block will change that. “Without having to memorize at 3:30, Inside Politics airs, at 4:30, Crossfire, at 5 o’clock, Wolf Blitzer Reports, it’s one bucket that’s going to give you everything you need,” Klein said. “It seems simpler, it seems easier for the audiences to access.”

Viewers can still expect to see political news and politics earlier in the block, and business news most likely after 4 p.m. when the markets close.

As part of the schedule overhaul, starting June 6 CNN will also start airing a simulcast CNN International’s Your World Today from noon to 1 p.m. each weekday. The program will be expanded to include updates on top domestic stories to augment the U.S. channel’s airing.

On the one hand CNN said that “certain positions” will be eliminated by the changes, but added that some new jobs will be created in Washington and Atlanta.

“CNN will be giving first consideration to existing employees, and expect that most will stay with the company,” the network said.

Also last week, CNBC pulled the plug on Dennis Miller and said it plans to bring business news back to its primetime lineup.

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