Roger Ailes: Improving ‘Flow’ is Impetus Behind Upcoming Lineup Changes

By Alex Weprin 

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was interviewed by Neil Cavuto at the 21st Century Fox Investors conference today, and he talked a bit about his plans for the channel going forward. As we noted earlier, he declined to address the report on Drudge about Megyn Kelly moving to 9 PM, but he did say that there will be changes coming to the lineup that are designed to improve its “flow.”

“One of my jobs is to get the best audience flow between shows and that’s one of the reason I’m making a few changes right now,” he said.

It sounds as though 3 PM and 7 PM anchor Shepard Smith will be one of those affected by the lineup changes.

“Shep and I have been working quietly on something we will roll out in September on how news is presented, a new way to deliver news,” Ailes said. “Shep is the premiere newsman in the country. Everyone wanted to hire him, he stayed with us.”

With “The Five” and “Special Report” both politics-centric from 5-7 PM, the 7 PM slot is ripe for a change, to better lead-in to FNC’s primetime lineup. Whether Smith stays in that timeslot with a new format or someone else moves, remains to be seen.

“I am a great believer in making changes that need to be made,” Ailes said. “You will see things, not just in talent–and I think picking talent is one of the things that are essential to winning–but also the rise of social media, the digital side of our unit is growing.”

To that end, Ailes said that there was an effort to appeal more to younger viewers, driven by digital. “The Five” is a big part of that. “It appeals to young people, and it going to be a big Internet project for us as well,” he said.

Ailes also broke some radio news.

FNC and Sirius XM satellite radio are close to a deal to bring Fox News Talk Radio back to its lineup. Sirius dropped the channel in January after they failed to come to terms on a carriage agreement. Fox Business Network will be added to the service, Ailes said.

He was also was asked whether he has a succession plan at Fox News. “Of course,” said Ailes, who is a co-founder of the network. “I update it every six months or so,” he added, without divulging who would be tapped to lead the company should he leave, or even whether his plan would be the one put in place. Ailes signed a 4-year contract extension in October, 2012.