Fox News Expanding Shepard Smith's Primetime Role, Leaving 7 P.M. Hour Open

Shep Smith - H 2013
Fox News

UPDATED: As part of his recent multi-year deal, the chief news anchor will helm a new breaking news division as managing editor, taking leave of "The Fox Report" for an increased presence throughout the day.

Fox News Channel's new primetime lineup is starting to fall into place. The network announced Thursday that chief news anchor Shepard Smith has been given the dual role of managing editor of a new breaking news division.

The move will give Shepard an increased presence on the network, appearing with breaking news throughout the day and the primetime schedule -- which has traditionally skewed towards commentary. His new role coincidences with a departure from the 7 p.m. hour's The Fox Report, making room on the increasingly crowded primetime schedule. Megyn Kelly moves to block this fall, rumored to be in Sean Hannity's 9 p.m. hour, while Hannity and Greta Van Susteren's hours have been up in the air.

An official decision on the 7 p.m. hour and the 9 p.m. hour has yet to be publicly made.  

“Shep is a premier journalist and one of the finest newsmen of the modern era," said Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. "He will exemplify the ethos that FOX News is when and where the news is, as it happens, no longer bound by a traditional evening format conceived in the 1960’s.”

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Heading into his new role, Smith is actually taking medical leave for shoulder surgery. Upon his return, he will continue to anchor the network's 3 p.m. hour -- only Studio B with Shepard Smith will be rebranded as Shepard Smith Reporting.

“Learning and reporting the news has been my passion for 25 years," Smith said in a statement. "I'm thrilled that Roger is trusting and empowering my team and me to bring the news to our viewers as it happens throughout the day and night. Roger’s forward-looking approach to anchoring and reporting will continue to solidify FNC’s position as the number one cable news network in the country.”

Smith's new deal with FNC was one of many brokered earlier this summer. Network personalities Bret Baier, Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, Van Susteren and, most notably, Kelly all renewed their contracts -- with Smith and Kelly seeming to reap the biggest boost in profile from their deals.

These are two of a great many changes headed to the top-rated network this fall. The View panelist Elisabeth Hasselbeck moves to Fox and Friends this fall. And former Fox and Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson departs for her own daytime show on FNC.

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For Smith, his new role will also mean a new studio. The launch of his new job and Shepard Smith Reporting brings The Fox News Deck, a new stage where the hour and all of Smith and his team's breaking news interruptions will be taped. A release touted the hub as a fusion of "incoming real-time news feeds, digital media newsgathering and social media utilizing advanced, state-of-the-art technology."

Smith has long been the face of news coverage for FNC. This year alone he's reported live from the Boston Marathon bombing and retirement of Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. He's covered such prominent news events as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as  Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan.