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CNN announces new prime-time lineup

CNN is abandoning the talk show that anchored its prime-time schedule for three decades with Larry King and Piers Morgan in favour of several documentarylike series with personalities such as Anthony Bourdain, Mike Rowe and John Walsh.

The network, which revealed the schedule change in a meeting with advertisers on Thursday, also said it would air a nightly newscast at 10pm with a rotating series of hosts.

Bourdain’s Parts Unknown travelogue became CNN’s most popular show upon its debut last year and increased the network’s taste for nonfiction programming that wouldn’t be susceptible to the ratings troughs that occur when news is slow.

Bourdain’s series, which at present airs on Sunday nights, will be part of the mix of programming for the weeknight 9pm time slot that Morgan abandoned a few weeks ago. Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man series will also be part of that mix.

Other programmes that will rotate out of that time slot include Somebody’s Gotta Do It, where former Dirty Jobs host Rowe will profile people with unusual professions. Walsh, longtime host of America’s Most Wanted, will do a show on criminal investigations. Lisa Ling will host a show, Our America, where she immerses herself in American subcultures.

CNN will also air The Jesus Code, a documentary described as an archeological journey through the Bible. A 10-part series on The Sixties that Tom Hanks is behind is also expected to air in that time slot.

“The seamless integration of original series and live news coverage, which has been on display the last two months, is the foundation of our new prime-time lineup,” said Jeff Zucker, CNN Worldwide president.

CNN had been seeing some historically low ratings earlier this year until the Malaysian airliner went missing several weeks ago. Coverage of that story has since dominated the network, dramatically improving the ratings.

Present shows hosted by Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper will remain in CNN’s evening lineup, Zucker said.