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NEW YORK — CNN will shift its early evening lineup, moving “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to 7 p.m. and stretching “The Situation Room” across three consecutive hours for the first time in its two-year history.
Dobbs, one of CNN’s two highest-rated shows, will shore up the network’s programming ahead of the February debut of latest hire Campbell Brown’s 8 p.m. program. It also moves Dobbs, whose brand of opinion and analysis has made inroads against Fox News Channel’s show with Brit Hume, head-to-head against “The Fox Report with Shepard Smith.”
The changes begin Nov. 5.
“The Situation Room,” anchored by Wolf Blitzer and featuring Jack Cafferty, now runs 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“It’s never felt quite right to have them stop” between its second and third hour, said CNN President Jon Klein. And as for Dobbs, Klein said that it would benefit from being away from the broadcast network newscasts that started at 6:30 p.m.
“The type of show Lou does lends itself much more to an analysis and a chewing over of the day’s events rather than just a straight-ahead newscast,” Klein said. For his part, Dobbs said he’s looking forward to the time change.
“We hope that our audience from 6 o’clock follows us at 7,” Dobbs said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make that as easy as possible.”
There’s no specific start date for Brown’s new program, which had originally been scheduled to debut by the end of the year before Brown gave birth. That’s been pushed back to February, and Klein said they’re closing in on hiring an executive producer.
The network also said that Blitzer has been chosen to anchor caucus and primary coverage next year as well as Election Night 2008. He’s also going to moderate three debates between Nov. 15 and Jan. 31.
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