Kaplan Out at MSNBC


As expected, MSNBC President Rick Kaplan is exiting the beleaguered NBC-owned cable news network after a two-and-a-half year tenure where MSNBC made some small gains but failed to move ahead of second-placed CNN in the cable news race. 

In a note to staffers, Kaplan lauded the network's recent gains, particularly for Hardball and Countdown, saying prime ratings are up 25%. However, recent ratings show MSNBC is still a distant third.According to May Nielsen ratings, MSNBC's prime time audience is still half of CNN's, with an average 322,000 viewers in prime to CNN's 688,000. Top-rated cable news net Fox News averaged 1.3 million viewers.

NBC News President Steve Capus, who oversees the network, said in an e-mail to staff that MSNBC department heads would manage their divisions for a brief period until Kaplan's replacement is named. One possible name under consideration is said to be NBC News executive Phil Griffin, a former MSNBC exec.

In December, NBC and Microsoft Corp, co-owners since MSNBC launched in 1995, moved to dissolve the partnership. NBC now owns a majority stake in MSNBC and plans to buy-out full ownership. The two companies continue to be 50-50 partners on MSNBC's Website, msnbc.com.