Matthews Ups Role at NBC


Looking to give its top talk-show host, Chris Matthews, abigger role at NBC News as it bulks up its election coverage, NBC is shifting Hardballwith Chris Matthews from CNBC to MSNBC.

Matthews said the move allows him to contribute toMSNBC's election coverage outside of his regular show. He'll also work as asubstitute host on NBC's Weekend Today show and as a contributor to the Todayshow.

"I was all for it because I wanted to be a part of theoverall NBC News division, and clearly, MSNBC is the future of NBC News because it'sa network totally committed to news," the fast-talking Matthews said last week.

Matthews -- known for his intense Hardballinterviews, during which he often shouts at his guests -- said he wants to be called on tocover breaking news. "I want to be available to be called up at 6 a.m. to be able torespond to what happened," said Matthews, who's also the Washington, D.C.,bureau chief for the San Francisco Observer.

Hardball moves to MSNBC Nov. 8, running Monday throughThursday at 7 p.m. Same-day repeats of the show will continue to run on CNBC at 8 p.m. and11 p.m.

Nielsen Media Research ratings for Hardball droppedfrom a 1.1 rating and 745,000 households in September 1998 to a 0.6 rating and 404,000households last month. NBC News vice president David Corvo said ratings for the showspiked last year due to the Clinton scandal, adding that CNBC's Hardball numberscould increase since MSNBC will cross-promote the CNBC telecasts.

"These are all niche audiences. We're trying toincrease his presence in those [MSNBC and CNBC] niche worlds, and we think that willactually increase his ratings, and not decrease them," Corvo added.

MSNBC, hoping to boost ratings, has been tweaking itslineup since July, when it canceled John Hockenberry's nightly interview show.Hockenberry famously responded by taking on-air shots at MSNBC before the show went dark.One night, he said the final night's topic might be: "How bad does cable TVsuck?"

Hardball gives MSNBC a nightly two-hour block ofpolitical talk and debate programming from Capitol Hill. Watch It with Laura Ingraham runsat 6 p.m., followed by Equal Time with Ollie North and Paul Begala at 6:30 p.m.

Hardball will be followed by Special Edition withAnn Curry at 8 p.m., The News with Brian Williams at 9 p.m. and Headliners& Legends with Matt Lauer at 10 p.m.