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CBS to Pull Plug on 'Morning Program,' Return It to News

September 28, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — CBS has given up on "The Morning Program" and will let the news division take the time period back beginning in December, the network announced today.

Co-hosts Rolland Smith and Mariette Hartley and producer Bob Shanks will not be involved in the new broadcast, a network spokeswoman said.

"The Morning Program" premiered last Jan. 12, replacing the "CBS Morning News" and relieving the network's news division of the time period from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

For years, the news division had struggled in vain to make ratings inroads against NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America." "Today" is a news division show. "Good Morning" is an entertainment division production.

"The Morning Program" was under neither division at CBS. It used live audiences and stand-up comics to try to break away from the entrenched formats of the competition, but "The Morning Program" had even lower ratings than its predecessor.

Today, CBS released a wire to affiliates from Network President Thomas Leahy saying it was "by now abundantly clear that viewing habits in the 7-9 a.m. time period are too well established for such an alternative format to succeed."

Hartley will return to California in December to star in a made-for-television movie for CBS, Leahy said.

Rumors abound that ABC's Kathleen Sullivan has been approached by CBS to co-anchor a new morning news show. But she has also been filling in for Joan Lunden on "Good Morning America."

Two "CBS Morning News" former co-anchors are out of the running. Forrest Sawyer left the network last week without saying what his plans were. Maria Shriver is now co-anchor on NBC's new "Sunday Today."

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