Can a YouTube host make it in Cable News?

By Chris Ariens 

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Cenk Uygur got a phone call Friday from MSNBC president Phil Griffin. Griffin told him they wanted him to start hosting five days a week for the network. Later that night, he learned why.

Uygur, founder and host of the popular The Young Turks channel on YouTube, is in Miami Beach for the annual NATPE conference. Back in New York, he’s been filling in on MSNBC for Dylan Ratigan. The call from Griffin will no doubt set off contract negotiations to put Uygur in the 6pmET spot permanently. Does the shoot-from-the-hip online host worry about abiding by NBC News standards? Before he left the Fountainbleau Hotel for a nearby studio where he’s been hosting this week, we asked him:

“Of course, I’m going to play by whatever rules are in that medium,” Uygur tells TVNewser. “If some of them concern me, I’ll take it up with whoever I should take it up with.”

MSNBC has given Uygur wide latitude during his fill-in days, which he expects will continue: “Of course there’s some things you can’t say on television that you might be able to say online, but they’ve given me a lot of freedom and I haven’t run into that many problems, so I feel pretty comfortable about it.”

His YouTube channel has developed into an online network of news, progressive opinion, even sports, and as been viewed more than 27 million times with total uploads across the Web topping 386 million. “We beat almost every show on CNN,” he told the crowd at NATPE, with a disclaimer that his shows can be viewed multiple times by the same person over a longer period of time. Still, the site claims to be “The Largest Online News Show in the World,” and Uygur says his added MSNBC duties will not get in the way of more growth. “We’re not going to let our audience down. We want to deliver the best to our TYT audience and we’re not going to sacrifice that.”