New CNN Morning Show to Launch Jan. 2

Soledad O'Brien will anchor first days from Iowa Caucuses

CNN will debut its new morning show team of Soledad O'Brien,
Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin on Jan. 2, the day before the Iowa Caucuses, a network spokesperson said Wednesday.

O'Brien, who will host the 7-9 a.m. hours of the new show,
will anchor from Des Moines on Jan. 2 and 3, with Banfield and Sambolin anchoring
5-7 a.m. from the CNN Election Center. The new anchors will continue anchoring their respective timeslots from Jan. 4 on, with a CNN spokesperson saying that "the show will continue to be developed over time."

The still-untitled program replaces American Morning and its interim hosts Ali Velshi, Christine Romans
and Carol Costello (who remain with CNN in other roles) and is another piece of
the lineup changes Ken Jautz has pushed through since becoming head of the
channel in 2010.

The decision to launch the morning show
as part of CNN's expanded Iowa coverage is an interesting choice given that
Jautz told B&C in November that
the show would be less politically-focused than entries like MSNBC's MorningJoe and cover a broader range of news.

"It will definitely not be an
inside-the-Beltway feel or limitation," he said at the time.

But the timing does capitalize on the likely
audience gains CNN will attract for its coverage of the first-in-the-nation
caucuses, giving it a bigger promotional platform for the new show, and takes
advantage of O'Brien's political news experience.

The Jan. 2 launch date also means the CNN program will debut a week ahead of 2012's other revamped morning show, CBS This Morning, which premieres the following Monday, Jan. 9.