Pasadena, Calif. -- MSNBC is hoping two of its new, high-profile
primetime-programming-lineup additions will help to place the once-formidable
news network back at the top of the cable-news-ratings race.
The news network will kick off its primetime relaunch Monday with
Nachman, an issues-oriented show hosted by the network's new editor in
chief, Jerry Nachman, at 7 p.m. The much-ballyhooed Donahue, featuring
veteran talk-show host Phil Donahue, will follow at 8 p.m.
MSNBC mainstays Hardball with Chris Matthews and Ashleigh Banfield:
On Location, airing at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. respectively, fill out the new
MSNBC president and general manager Erik Sorenson said the two shows are part
of an overall overhaul of the channel, which will place a greater emphasis on
current news. The network plans to reduce its long-form documentary programming
and increase its hours of live news programming by 40 percent over a year
Sorenson, speaking at the Television Critics Association tour here, also said
the network's editorial voice will remain independent and not slant toward one
'We aren't coming to the news with an agenda,' he added. 'We don't slant the
news -- all voices will be heard.'
The changes come amid stagnant ratings for the network. MSNBC's
second-quarter 0.4 primetime rating was flat compared with 2001, but it was a
distant third behind genre leaders Fox News Channel and Cable News Network.
But MSNBC executives believe the network can climb back into the race on the
heels of its new programming additions. Nachman believes Donahue, in
particular, will perform well in a very competitive 8 p.m. time slot that
features Fox News' top-rated The O'Reilly Factor and CNN's Connie
'On his worst night on the air based on ratings, Phil Donahue had probably
100 times more viewers than any cable guy who has ever lived,' Nachman said. 'So
I think there's going to be nothing surprising about Phil's audience going,
'Thank God he's back.''