CNN drops ‘Primetime,’ ‘Tonight’ names in favor of new show titles in major programming revamp

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CNN has announced another round of major programming and anchor changes that will see programs launch under updated branding — with two titles being dropped.

In many ways, the changes represent a “filling in” of a Swiss cheese-like schedule that had multiple anchor vacancies and programs that, while technically on the “permanent” schedule felt more like placeholders. 

CNN did not announce premiere dates for the various changes. Logos and key art were also not released.

At 3 p.m. eastern on weekdays, Pamela Brown will take over an hour of “CNN NewsCentral” under the name “The Bulletin with Pamela Brown.” 

The choice of this name is likely meant to convey a sense of urgency, though in traditional journalism parlance, a “bulletin” often denoted a major breaking news item — often considered even higher than “breaking news” or a “special report.” “The Bulletin” is also the name of a Christian podcast, a nod to the alternative definition of the word to describe the printed or digital order of ceremony and mini-newsletter frequently distributed at church services.

“NewsCentral” will continue to air from D.C. from 1 to 3 p.m. as well as its New York-based morning block from 9 a.m. to noon, which is remaining three hours.

“Bulletin” will also create a three-hour block of programs that all start with the article “The” — “The Bulletin,” “The Lead” and “The Situation Room.”

In primetime, CNN appears to be saying farewell to the “CNN Primetime” and “CNN Tonight” branding.

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At 10 p.m., the network will launch “CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip.” CNN previously used the “NewsNight” name from 2001 to 2005 for a show originally anchored by Aaron Brown (though his show did not include the “CNN” part). “Newsnight” (without the second capital “N”) is also the name of a BBC News program.

The 11 p.m. hour is being renamed “Laura Coates Live” in reference to anchor Laura Coates.

The name has some similarities to the branding used by “Larry King Live” and its successor “Pier Morgan Live,” though those programs aired at 9 p.m. eastern. Coates’ first name starting with “L” makes the same alliteration in the “Larry King” title possible.

CNN Primetime” was originally introduced earlier in 2023 for the 9 p.m. hour (which has since been taken over by “The Source with Kaitlan Collins“). The hour’s programming was often marketed as “events” and featured a variety of hosts using different formats including extended interviews, town halls, panels and long-form reporting on a single topic, many of which were determined by the recent news cycle. 

CNN eventually gave up on that approach but continued to use the name, this time at 10 p.m., as the title of a generic hour of news and panels. 

The name “CNN Tonight” dates back to 2001 and has been used at various times throughout the network’s history, often as a placeholder title. It was brought back in 2014 for Don Lemon’s 10 p.m. program. That show became “Don Lemon Tonight” in 2021. The name has continued to appear on the network since then, mostly recently for the 11 p.m. hour. It was also used for a Jake Tapper-headed hour after he took a leave from “The Lead” ahead of the 2022 midterms.

On weekends, “First of All with Victor Blackwell” will launch at 8 a.m. Saturdays. The almost-rhyming name has a playful, if not slightly annoying, cadence to it. 

Following that, the uninspiringly-named “The Chris Wallace Show” will launch. Anchor Chris Wallace will continue hosting “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” on Max and CNN.

CNN continues the trend of unoriginal names with Christiane Amanpour anchoring “Christiane Amanpour” at 11 a.m. eastern Saturdays. Amanpour already anchors the similarly-titled “Amanpour” on CNN International and “Amanpour & Company” on PBS. The naming does, however, make a certain degree of sense when once considers that the longtime anchor’s name is fairly well-known among TV news fans and has essentially evolved into a brand of its own.

In addition, “CNN This Morning” will be rebranded under the name “CNN This Morning with Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly.” There’s no word on if the program will relaunch with a new look or in a new studio. When “This Morning” was originally rushed to the air for a November 2022 debut, the network said it was building a new set for the program. That was before co-anchors Kaitlan Collins and Lemon both left the show, however. 

The schedule also notably cuts back on an hour of the afternoon block of “NewsCentral,” another Licht-era introduction. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the show “The Bulletin” will replace. It will replace an hour of “NewsCentral.”

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