HLN Abruptly Cuts Live Programs for ‘News by Day, Mysteries by Night'

October 16th, 2018 7:45 PM

Ever since HLN debuted as CNN2 on January 1, 1982, the cable television channel has been on a roller coaster ride that led to the announcement on Tuesday that the network is immediately cutting back on its live programming in favor of virtually all taped shows.

The transition was already apparent on the same day, when Morning Express with Robin Meade was followed by a rerun of How It Really Happened with Hill Harper instead of a live edition of Across America with Carol Costello.

The only exceptions to the change are Morning Express -- which will be broadcast from 6 a.m. to 12 noon -- and On the Story, which will expand to air from 12 noon to 3 p.m. and continue to be hosted by a number of anchors.

After 3 p.m. on weekdays, HLN will consist entirely of taped programming in an attempt to focus on HLN’s strengths, which are described as News by day, mysteries and investigations by night.”

In addition, HLN will close down all live production in New York and Los Angeles and move entirely to Atlanta.

According to an exclusive article posted by Mediaite's Aidan McLaughlin, the new schedule -- which was originally slated to kick in on Monday, October 29 -- was announced on Tuesday morning in HLN’s three headquarters in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

McLaughlin also noted:

A number of HLN’s top live shows are getting chopped, including Across America with Carol Costello, Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield and MichaeLA, hosted by Michaela Pereira. Those hosts will be leaving the network.

On weekends, Weekend Express, hosted by Lynn Smith, will continue to air live from 7 a.m. to 12 noon.

“In a company-wide note sent out by HLN head Ken Jautz and obtained by Mediaite, he explained that in a ‘cable news landscape is dominated by politics,’ the network’s ‘live news shows have not benefited from this trend given our story mix,’” the online editor added.

McLaughlin also stated that HLN, “which is less politically focused than the top three cable news networks -- CNN. MSNBC and Fox News -- has struggled to achieve growth in the current Trump-dominated climate.”

While CNN enjoyed its most-watched quarter at the start of 2017 thanks to coverage of the Trump presidency, HLN’s ratings have declined since 2016.

Even before Tuesday’s announcement, the channel had a turbulent history.

Founded by Turner Broadcasting CEO Ted Turner 36 years ago, the channel’s original programming was based on the concept that a viewer could tune in at any time of day or night without waiting for other national newscasts and receive up-to-date information in just 30 minutes.

In January of 1983, the network was renamed Headline News, and the channel enjoyed many years of success until December 15, 2008, when the "HLN" acronym was introduced. Two days later, the “Headline News” name was removed from on-air use.

As NewsBusters previously reported, the host of Across America betrayed her liberal bias in 2014 when she led into an audio clip of Bristol Palin -- the daughter of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- describing a physical and verbal assault by saying:

This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across.

Sit back and enjoy.

Costello later apologized for her comments.

Tuesday’s development comes as no surprise since HLN has lived in the shadow of CNN ever since the “glory days” of Headline News. Perhaps a more significant name change could help to separate the channel from its past.