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Fox plans to launch morning show in 2007

Program will air from 9-10 a.m., compete with big 3 network shows
/ Source: The Associated Press

Trying to take advantage of instability in morning television, Fox announced on Tuesday that it will launch an hour-long morning news program in January.

Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, currently daytime anchors on Fox News Channel, will be the hosts of the program. It will air at 9 a.m. in most markets and lean toward light, entertainment-driven news unless there is a major story. Fox News Channel reporters will be used for story coverage.

The program, which doesn’t have a name yet, will follow four hours of local news programming on many Fox stations. Fox hopes that provides a compatible lead-in, said Dennis Swanson, president of operations for the Fox television stations.

The departures of Katie Couric from NBC’s “Today” show and Charles Gibson from “Good Morning America” on ABC could also mean that viewers may be looking for something new in the morning, he said.

“That’s an opportunity,” he said.

Fox stations, many of which began airing a new syndicated program with Geraldo Rivera as host last year, are moving toward more news and information programming, he said. The syndication market for old sitcoms, traditionally a source of daytime material, is drying up to the point that no new sitcoms are being offered to air in 2008, he said.

The new Fox program will compete against the third hour of “Today” in many markets, and against “Live with Regis and Kelly.” The new show will be modeled to a certain extent after Fox News Channel’s popular “Fox & Friends” morning program.

The 25 Fox-owned stations, covering about 44 percent of the U.S. market, have committed to airing the new program. The network will try in coming months to persuade other Fox affiliates to show it.