CNN Announces Morning Programming Reshuffle

By Mark Mwachiro 

Nearly six months after announcing programming changes that mainly affected its primetime lineup, CNN is rolling out a new set of programming changes occurring during its morning and daytime hours.

The biggest change is the end of CNN This Morning as the network’s flagship morning news program, which was the brainchild of former CNN president Chris Licht. The morning show, which had evolved from a three-person team of Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins to a show helmed by Harlow and Phil Mattingly, will now be replaced by another Licht program, CNN News Central, which seems to vibe more with CNN’s new mission.

The morning edition of CNN News Central, anchored by Sara Sidner, John Berman and Kate Bouldan, will now be from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET. Harlow and Mattingly will be assigned new roles as a result of CNN This Morning’s end.


Other changes to CNN’s lineup include Kasie Hunt’s early morning program, Early Start, being renamed CNN This Morning. It will be extended by an additional hour to air from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. The 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET hours will now be helmed by new Washington, D.C.-based programs anchored by Jim Acosta and Pamela Brown, respectively.

Brown was supposedly scheduled for an afternoon news program when the previous lineup shakeup happened, but the network had been quiet about the show’s launch. All other programming initiatives announced at the time have since debuted.

When Brown’s show launches, Wolf Blitzer will temporarily anchor it until she returns from maternity leave.

In a note to staff sent by CNN’s new chief, Mark Thompson, and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, he said these new changes to CNN’s programming lineup are “a change in strategic direction” and “will go into effect later this month.”

The biggest beneficiary from all these changes is CNN’s Atlanta operations, which will now be solely responsible for producing CNN’s morning programming.

Thompson thanked the CNN New York editorial team, saying, “They’re among the best in the business.” He also encouraged them to apply for the new positions opening in Atlanta and Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, the afternoon, evening and primetime program lineups remained unchanged for the time being.

Read Thompson’s note to staff below:

Dear all,

I wanted to let the whole CNN family know about changes we informed our US cable morning programming team of earlier today, which will go into effect later this month.

We have decided to reshape how we approach mornings on domestic cable. First, we’re expanding the show currently known as Early Start by an hour so that in future it will run from 5–7 a.m. ET under the CNN This Morning brand. It will be anchored as now by Kasie Hunt in DC and will be produced in Atlanta.

Second, we’re moving our CNN News Central franchise with John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner up to 7 a.m. and will run it until 10 a.m. ET. This production team will continue to be based in Atlanta.

That move opens up two hours of new programming at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Jim Acosta will anchor CNN Newsroom at 10 a.m., and 11 a.m. will feature The Bulletin with Pamela Brown, which will launch in the spring. Wolf Blitzer will anchor the 11 a.m. hour in the interim while Pam is on maternity leave. Both of these shows will also be produced out of Atlanta.

These changes mean that we will no longer produce morning programming in New York and will be disbanding the team that currently produces CNN This Morning in that city. Our New York-based primetime and weekend programming will continue.

What we are announcing today is a change in strategic direction and not a reflection on the talent, expertise and dedication of the New York based editorial production and operations teams who’ve worked on our morning output – they’re among the best in the business. We will be strongly encouraging them to apply for the many new open roles that we are making available this week in Atlanta and Washington, DC, along with a number of other open roles in New York in other programming blocks. We are also talking to both Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly about new roles at CNN.

I’m very aware that today’s announcement means a great deal of uncertainty for many valued colleagues. Change and uncertainty are inevitable in an industry undergoing a revolution, but we must never underestimate the human consequences that come in their wake. So to everyone who has been involved in the New York based Early Start and CNN This Morning, thank you for your hard work and your total commitment to the show since its launch.