MSNBC cancels shows as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming. The network also announced that Ed Schultz will depart, while “The Cycle” and “Now with Alex Wagner” will be terminated, according to The Huffington Post.
The shows were published in a memo sent by network President Phil Griffin. Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a “Cycle” co-host and MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, will remain.
In his memo to staff, Griffin said the network would “unveil a 9am to 5pm schedule” in September “driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day” — a clear indication that daytime will be free from opinion-based programming. Throughout his memo, Griffin referred to daytime as a place for “live, breaking news coverage.”
MSNBC cancels the shows, which have been expected for some time, come as NBC News chief Andrew Lack moves to refashion the liberal cable channel as a straight-forward news and politics offering, at least in daytime. In September, the network will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by “Meet The Press” moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former “Nightly News” anchor, will serve as the network’s breaking news and special reports anchor.
As part of the shift, Lack has informed staff that there will be greater integration between NBC News and MSNBC, befitting the original vision for the channel he founded as president of NBC News in 1996. MSNBC’s primetime programming — which includes shows hosted by Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell — is expected to remain liberal and outspoken.
The cancellations are also an effort to correct steep ratings declines, which have plagued the network for years. Griffin also hinted that more change may come as needed.
“Change can be hard,” Griffin wrote. “There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time, but we have exciting opportunities ahead.”
In July, MSNBC averaged 373,000 viewers during the day, compared with 426,000 for CNN and 985,000 for Fox News Channel. But the shows on the network were particularly weak during the day, especially among the 25-to-54-year-old age group that advertisers most want to reach with news programming.
MSNBC cancels the shows at a time when it averaged just 48,000 viewers among the 25-to-54 demographic in daytime, far behind its competitors. The move was expected in an effort to shift to more news coverage and opinion programing.