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Facing ratings pressure, Fox News replaces news with opinion at 7 p.m.

Martha MacCallum
“The Story With Martha MacCallum” moves from the early evening to the afternoon on Fox News.
(Fox News Channel via Associated Press)

Fox News, which has watched its ratings leadership slip since the election loss of President Trump, announced a major revamp of its daytime lineup Monday.

The conservative-leaning network, which is typically the dominant leader among cable news viewers, has seen CNN and MSNBC surpass it in the Nielsen ratings in many hours throughout the day since the Nov. 3 election. The network, which had its best year in 2020, was a distant third last week during coverage of the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol and its aftermath.

Fox News executives had said earlier in the fall that they expected to make changes to the daytime lineup once the election was over. The changes take effect Jan. 18.

TV news organizations and networks typically make personnel changes when a new White House administration comes in. CNN also announced shifts to its lineup Monday.

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The major change for Fox News is the move of “The Story With Martha MacCallum” out of its 7 p.m. Eastern time slot to make way for a new opinion show, tentatively named “Fox News Primetime,” which will have a rotating group of hosts.

MacCallum’s program — which featured interviews with newsmakers and commentators — will air at 3 p.m. Eastern. “The Story” had seen its audience level fall in recent months as Newsmax, a competing right-wing channel, had gained viewers in the hour with its host Greg Kelly.

While Kelly has never topped MacCallum in the ratings, his program has provided an alternative for the Fox News audience looking for solace after the election. Fox News viewers do tend to tune out after the election of a Democratic administration.

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Overall, Newsmax has averaged around 326,000 viewers in prime time since the election, well below even the recent numbers of Fox News, which on Friday averaged close to 3 million viewers.

Kelly, a former Fox News correspondent, has been a relentless defender of Trump’s attempts to overturn his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, even in the days after Trump’s supporters staged a siege at the Capitol.

MacCallum remains a lead co-anchor at Fox News, handling breaking news and special events alongside Bret Baier.

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Adding an opinion program at 7 p.m. in the hour before Fox News conservative stalwarts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham take over in prime time is clearly a response to the new competition. While Fox News prime-time shows have also seen their competitive standing slip behind CNN and MSNBC, they are not experiencing the kind of audience losses seen during the day.

The network is also adding a new two-hour afternoon news program with White House correspondent John Roberts. “America Reports With John Roberts & Sandra Smith” will air from 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern.

Anchor Bill Hemmer will lose his afternoon solo hour and join Dana Perino from 9-11 a.m. on the two-hour newscast “America’s Newsroom.” Hemmer had been a co-anchor in the time slot before replacing Shepard Smith when he left his afternoon Fox News show in 2019.

Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner questions President Trump during a program on the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Fox News)
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“Outnumbered Overtime” host Harris Faulkner will move to an earlier hour — 11 a.m. — and her program will be retitled “The Faulkner Focus.”

“Outnumbered” — the roundtable show where Faulkner also appears, remains at noon.

“Your World With Neil Cavuto” remains at 4 p.m., followed by “The Five” at 5 p.m. and “Special Report With Bret Baier” at 6 p.m.

CNN announced “The Lead With Jake Tapper” will expand to two hours, airing from 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern. “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer will be reduced one hour, airing at 6 p.m. Blitzer will continue to be the lead anchor on the network’s breaking news coverage.

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CNN is also adding Dana Bash, its chief political correspondent, as a co-anchor for Tapper’s Sunday morning program “State of the Union.” Political correspondent Abby Phillip has been named anchor of the Sunday edition of “Inside Politics.” John King continues as anchor of the weekday edition.


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