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TV Note: MSNBC changes chiefs

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Former CNN chief Rick Kaplan was hired yesterday to run MSNBC, replacing Erik Sorenson at the helm of the last-place cable news network.

An award-winning producer at ABC News, Kaplan headed CNN's domestic operations from 1997 to 2000. After teaching at Harvard, Kaplan returned to ABC News last year to help plan coverage of the Iraq war.

Kaplan has been a senior executive at ABC News for the past year.

"I worked with Rick for 13 years at ABC News and I know firsthand the energy and innovation that is his trademark," said Neal Shapiro, NBC News president.

Sorenson has been MSNBC's president and general manager since 1998. The network has remained a distant third in the news competition to Fox News Channel and CNN despite several attention-getting attempts to catch up.

MSNBC has averaged 373,000 viewers in prime time this season, compared with CNN's 927,000 and Fox's 1.62 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Sorenson will work on special projects at NBC News, the network said.

While MSNBC generally draws a younger audience than its competitors, it has suffered an identity crisis partly due to its frequent and abrupt shifts in focus.

David Bauder, Associated Press

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