By Joe Flint
CNBC has signed former Fox News journalist Shepard Smith to anchor a new one-hour evening news program, the network said Wednesday.
"The News with Shepard Smith" will debut this fall in the 7-8 p.m. time slot on the cable news business channel. The Monday through Friday newscast marks a significant shift in the evening programming strategy for CNBC, which currently relies on light, unscripted fare.
CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman said Mr. Smith's show will try to be a counter to news and commentary programming.
"Information is coming at us from every direction," Mr. Hoffman said in a statement. "If we're not careful life-altering decisions will be made based on half-truth, rumor, misdirection or worse. We aim to deliver a nightly program that, in some small way, looks for the signal in all the noise."
NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell has previously indicated a desire to see CNBC experiment with more news and commentary programming in prime time to offer a counter to the right-leaning Fox News and the left-leaning CNBC sister channel MSNBC. CNBC and NBCUniversal are units of Comcast Corp.
In announcing Mr. Smith's hiring, Mr. Hoffman suggested there would be no other changes coming to the rest of CNBC's prime-time lineup anytime soon. The Smith newscast will "serve as the perfect bridge between CNBC's daytime investor-focused news programming and the network's aspirational business-oriented entertainment programs in prime time."
Other CNBC prime-time shows include "The Profit," featuring businessman Marcus Lemonis on the hunt for businesses to invest in, and "Jay Leno's Garage." The repeats of "Shark Tank" will also continue to be part of the network's evening lineup.
Mr. Smith said in a statement that he is "honored to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC's loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad." CNBC, he said, has a "vision for a fact-based, hourlong evening news program with the mission to cut through the static to deliver facts, in context and with perspective."
Mr. Smith will be joining a network with a much smaller audience. At Fox News, Mr. Smith's afternoon newscast averaged 1.3 million viewers during his last quarter. The 7 p.m. time slot he is taking over at CNBC has averaged fewer than 250,000 viewers so far this year, according to Nielsen.
One of the first on-air hires at Fox News when it launched in 1996, Mr. Smith left the channel last October amid increasing tensions between him and the network's opinion side, specifically Tucker Carlson. Mr. Smith also occasionally clashed with Sean Hannity and was criticized by President Trump as well.
Fox News is a unit of Fox Corp., which shares common ownership with Wall Street Journal parent News Corp.
At the time of his exit, which came while he still had a few years left on his contract, Fox News stressed that Mr. Smith was leaving of his own accord. When Mr. Smith left, he told viewers, "even in our currently polarized nation, it is my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism -- and journalists -- will thrive."
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