Four years ago, Cable News Network filled half of its primetime schedule with two runs of its hour-long newscast The World Today, at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
But beginning next month — when analyst Jeff Greenfield becomes the latest CNN anchor to host a show named after him — CNN will have four half-hour personality-driven news shows scheduled in the timeslots that newscast had previously filled.
Greenfield's program, Jeff Greenfield at Large, will replace The Spin Room
with Tucker Carlson and Bill Press, which was cancelled on May 18.
CNN scrapped the 10 p.m. run of The World Today
in 1998, and replaced it with its failed Newsstand
series of magazine programs. The 8 p.m. run of The World Today
was replaced in January with two half-hour newscasts, Wolf Blitzer Reports
and The Point with Greta Van Susteren.
The half-hour CNN Tonight with Bill Hemmer
at 10 p.m. will lead into Greenfield's program. The one-hour Larry King Live
remains at 9 p.m.
Greenfield's show, which CNN had originally planned to premiere in April in an earlier timeslot, continues the network's move toward personality-driven news programming. That's a genre in which rival Fox News Channel has enjoyed much success, with programs such as The O'Reilly Factor
and Special Report with Brit Hume.
"The strategy is we want strong, engaging personalities on our programs, obviously, but it's not all about building it around one or two personalities," said CNN executive vice president and general manager Sid Bedingfield. "We also want smart, engaging reporting and storytelling across our network, and we're going to work very hard to make sure we have that."
Bedingfield said CNN cancelled The Spin Room
because it wanted to focus its attention on Crossfire, which has a very similar format.
Greenfield, CNN's senior political analyst, will expand the topic base on his new program to include segments on social trends and other nonpolitical stories.
"We want this to be Jeff's distinctive voice, his take on the major trends and stories of the day," said Bedingfield. "And then he wants to tap into what I call the national conversation — stories people are talking about."
Celebrity interviews will also be a key part of the show, with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas slated as one of the first guests.
The Spin Room
averaged a 0.5 rating and 400,000 households during the first quarter, according to Nielsen Media Research. FNC's one-hour The Edge with Paula Zahn
is the top-rated news network show in the 10 p.m. hour, averaging a 0.7 rating and 416,000 households during the first quarter.
Meanwhile, more layoffs are planned at CNN, which cut 400 employees in January. Bedingfield wouldn't comment on the prospect of additional job cuts, but one company source said the network planned to cut about 20 positions from its CNN Interactive unit late last week.