CNBC cancels ‘The News with Shepard Smith’

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CNBC has canceled “The News with Shepard Smith” as part of what is says is an effort to refocus the network around business and financial news and what some say is a larger strategy of cost-cutting.

Anchor Shepard Smith, who joined the network after abruptly exiting Fox’s conservative commentary channel in 2019, will leave the network later in November 2022, according to a CNBC source.

He was being paid a reported $10 million a year and had a staff of over 20 to 25, many of whom will lose their jobs, though the network will help those affected find other roles within NBC News Group where possible.

“The News” delivered mixed results for CNBC. Overall viewership was never massively high, but CNBC’s own report on the cancellation noted that the show had “the wealthiest audience of any primetime cable news program over the last two years.” The network also pointed out that October 2022 was the show’s best month since April 2022.

The cancellation comes after K.C. Sullivan recently took over the network from Mark Hoffman in September 2022.

In a bit of irony, at the time “The News” was announced, Hoffman had indicated that the show would help the network feature a broader scope of news beyond just its financial and business programming.

Sullivan appears to be reversing course and doubling down on CNBC’s reputation around financial reporting.

Once “The News” ends, CNBC will air general markets coverage in the timeslot until a new live show launches in 2023. A title and anchors for that show have not been announced.

This is the second iteration of a program by the same name and similar format that CNBC aired. It carried the Brian Williams-helmed version starting in 2002. It ended in May 2004, just a few months after John Seigenthaler took over the broadcast.

Smith’s departure from Fox happened in the middle of a lucrative contract extension he had signed. At first he was silent on his departure, but in 2021 he was quoted as saying “When people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that’s injurious to society and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing: Those of us who are so honored and grateful to have a platform of public influence have to use it for the public good.”

NBCUniversal, meanwhile, is said to be preparing for additional cost-cutting measures, a common trend among media companies as they face increased costs, less ad revenue once the election is over and heavy investments in streaming and digital platforms.

Broader signs of potential trouble ahead for the economy are also making executives nervous and under pressure to continue delivering value for shareholders.

It’s not clear if the cuts would be as significant as the “NBC 2.0” plan the network rolled out in the mid-2000s, which saw it part company with high profile talent and numerous other staffers at different levels to save money and reshape its workforce.

Since then, NBC News in particular has faced growing pressure from workers over working conditions and pay, including a successful bid to unionize the digital division. Most recently, the union sparred with leadership over plans to return staffers to the office environment following months of working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.