CNBC To Axe Shep Smith’s Primetime Newscast After Just Two Years
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1326A -- Pictured in this screengrab: Broadcast Journalist Shepard Smith during an interview on September 28, 2020 -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

CNBC plans to drop anchor Shepard Smith’s evening news show, “The News with Shepard Smith,” after just two years.

Variety reported on Thursday that the veteran journalist — who anchored a mid-afternoon slot for years on Fox News before moving to CNBC — was leaving the network, and his time slot would transition to a business-focused report more in line with other programming.

The move reportedly came at the behest of new network President KC Sullivan, the network’s former chief financial officer who took over for former chief Mark Hoffman in mid-August.

Sullivan explained the logic behind the move in a memo to staffers on Thursday, saying that under his leadership, CNBC would “prioritize and focus on our core strengths of business news and personal finance. This is key in our efforts to continue building on our position as the number one global business news brand and to connect with new audiences of all kinds interested in their financial future.”

“We need to further invest in business news content that provides our audiences actionable understanding of the complex developments in global markets and the implications on institutions, investors and individuals,” the memo continued. “During times of flux and uncertainty, our place in the lives of those we touch on-air, online and in person becomes even clearer, and more essential.”

Smith’s broader-range news show was part of an effort to keep business-focused audiences engaged after the closing bell rang — an effort that included talk shows featuring Donny Deutsch and Dennis Miller and competition shows like “Shark Tank” — but Sullivan has made it clear that he wants to bring the evening shows back into line with the daytime programming.

Still, the new network president had nothing but kind words for the former Fox News anchor. “The quality journalism Shep and his team delivered each weeknight was exemplary and not lost on us or our 7pm audience. ‘The News’ increased CNBC’s 7pm viewership average and attracted the most affluent audience of any primetime cable news program,” Sullivan said. “At a time when misinformation and disinformation is rampant, ‘The News’ succeeded in providing audiences with the clearest understanding of the facts. Decisions like these are not arrived at hastily or taken lightly. I believe this decision will ultimately help to strengthen our brand and the value we provide our audiences.”

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