MSNBC drops daytime opinion format

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Prime-time is much more appointment viewing, Mr. Griffin says.

His rivals have long acknowledged the differences. During the network’s public battle with the Obama administration in the fall, Fox executives made a point of casting daytime differently, saying that is when the network’s news operation operates, as opposed to the editorial section with Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Hannity at night.

HLN, formerly CNN Headline News, generally runs a continuous “wheel” of half-hour newscasts during the day and opinionated programs led by Nancy Grace at night.

The main CNN network, while it has suffered in prime time, has more than twice MSNBC’s audience from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the Nielsen Co. During the midday hours, MSNBC often runs fifth in its target demo, behind Fox, CNN, HLN and CNBC.

News junkies who want opinion during the daytime are more likely to seek it in a different form. Those are the hours when the programs of radio stars such as Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Hannity, Glenn Beck and Ed Schultz air. They’re better suited to busy people who can listen in their car radios, for example.

MSNBC will be committed during the day to making sure that viewers who tune in are told the big stories of the day within five or 10 minutes, Mr. Griffin says.

“All three cable networks kind of struggle during the day trying to figure out their identity,” he says. “We’re going to get into a more aggressive headline-and-information programming.”

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