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Rick Sanchez gets expanded show on CNN; 'The Situation Room' loses an hour [Updated]

December 22, 2009 | 10:38 am

CNN is shaking up its afternoon lineup in the new year. Beginning Jan. 18, “The Situation Room” will start an hour later to make room for a new show dubbed “Rick’s List,” anchored by Rick Sanchez, that will air from noon to 2 p.m. PST. It will be followed by a two-hour “The Situation Room,” whose anchor, Wolf Blitzer, had until now been handling three live hours a day.

CNN executives declined to speak publicly about the move, but a spokeswoman that the change was made to bring more uniformity to the afternoon lineup. The shake-up also lessens the focus on political news, which is expected to be one of the main topics covered in the 4 p.m. PST hour when John King begins anchoring that time slot early next year. [Updated at 12:06 p.m.: Blitzer will continue to cover political news in "The Situation Room."]

[Updated at 12:24 p.m: Sanchez will also cover the top political stories of the day during his program, while the shows anchored by Blitzer and King will be based in Washington and have a strong political focus.]

“Rick’s List” is expected to incorporate Twitter, a tool Sanchez frequently uses. This morning, he tweeted that the show “will be full of newsmakers and thinkers we- and u- think are relevant to CNN. My access = your access.”

Blitzer, in turn, tweeted that he was fine about the change. “Our excellent team can focus on 2 solid hrs,” he wrote. “Less becomes more.”

In the short term, Blitzer will continue to anchor for three hours a day, as he’ll be substituting in the 4 p.m. PST time slot until King begins his new show. King replaces Lou Dobbs, who abruptly resigned from the network last month. There is still no word yet about who will take over for King on his Sunday show “State of the Union.”

-- Matea Gold