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CNN finally sorts out primetime

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CNN is finally sorting out its primetime lineup, which has remained effectively in limbo since Connie Chung Tonight was cancelled during continuous coverage of the war in Iraq.

Tonight it was announced that Anderson Cooper, who has been hosting the entire 7pm-9pm Live From The Headlines show recently, will host a new hour-long show starting at 7pm ET. Cooper has gained something of a cult status among TV addicts in America, sporting both a shock of gunmetal-grey hair and having previously hosted The Mole, a reality show, on the ABC network. Cooper also has hard news credentials under his belt, having previously anchored ABC's overnight news service World News Now, provided reports for other ABC news shows, and served as chief international correspondent for Channel One News.

Paula Zahn, who originally moved from the breakfast slot to host a two-hour long American Evening show running from 7-9pm ET, will now host an hour-long show at 8pm, sandwiched between Cooper's show and Larry King Live at 9.

Both new shows were effectively soft-launched on-air Monday night, with Zahn explaining at the beginning of her show at 8pm that a new title, new features and new contributors are on the way. It is therefore likely that while Cooper's show will remain close to its current Live From The Headlines rolling news format, Zahn's show will be more interview and feature-driven - although CNN executives will be keen to distance it from the now-axed Connie Chung Tonight, which frequently led with stories of a more tabloid nature.

CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld recently posted market share figures on his meandted.com website revealing that CNN currently only has around 30% of cable news viewing in primetime, compared to around 54% for arch-rival FOX News. No doubt CNN executives hope that this latest move will result in some of that share being clawed back.

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