MSNBC shuffling weekend schedule, debuting new morning ensemble, heading into election year

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2018 Invision

FILE - Symone Sanders-Townsend attends the Black Girls Rock! Awards at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, in Newark, N.J. Sanders-Townsend will join Alicia Menendez and Michael Steele as hosts of the new MSNBC show, The Weekend, airing for two hours starting at 8 a.m. Eastern on Saturday and Sunday. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK – MSNBC will shuffle its weekend schedule early next year to try and juice ratings, starting a new morning ensemble program and ending regular shows hosted by Mehdi Hasan and Yasmin Vossoughian.

In a memo to her staff Thursday, MSNBC President Rashida Jones said the changes will help the network “better position ourselves as we head into the presidential election.”

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The new show, “The Weekend,” will air for two hours starting at 8 a.m. Eastern on Saturday and Sunday. Its hosts will be Alicia Menendez, Symone Sanders-Townsend and Michael Steele.

Ayman Mohyeldin and Alex Witt will both get more airtime as hosts on both weekend days under the new plans. Jonathan Capehart and Katie Phang will see time shift changes.

Both Hasan and Vossoughian will remain as fill-in hosts and also do some commentary and reporting, MSNBC said.

The opinionated Hasan, who hosted one hour on Sunday nights, had received external attention for pro-Arab views at a time of war. MSNBC did not address this but noted that its changes have long been in the works and were ratings-driven.

So far this year, Hasan's average audience of 484,000 viewers trailed Fox News' Mark Levin (1.4 million) and CNN's Anderson Cooper (520,000) in the time slot, the Nielsen company said.

The changes take effect Jan. 13, 2024.

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