Blitzer Extends CNN Deal; King Gets Four-Hour Sunday Block

Wolf Blitzer, who led CNN’s election coverage, has extended his contract as the all-news network’s lead political anchor, guaranteeing his tenure through the next presidential race, officials said Monday.

CNN also announced that John King, the master of CNN’s election “Magic Wall,” will take the helm of a new Sunday four-hour block of political programming.

As part of his deal, Blitzer will continue to anchor the 15 hours of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, which airs weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Throughout November, The Situation Room was the No. 1-rated weekday news program in all three hours among the key demo.

Following his break-out reporting during the election season, King will lead a Sunday news block from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, starting in January. The program will offer a blend of newsmaker interviews, political analysis, national and world affairs, cultural segments, media analysis and commentary.

“Wolf has driven CNN’s election coverage to No. 1 on primary and election nights and he has built The Situation Room into a dominant weekday program,” CNN president Jon Klein said in a prepared statement. “We are reinventing Sunday mornings around the best political reporter of his generation, John King. He has stood out throughout the election as the single best connected, most knowledgeable source of what’s going on and why, and this new program is an opportunity to showcase those strengths throughout the entire year.”

The first hour of the new program will focus heavily on politics and the new administration, while the later hours will delve into national and world affairs and commentary on current events. The four-hour programming block will also include Reliable Sources, hosted by Howard Kurtz, which will continue as an hour-long examination into the intersection of the national media, politics, and the latest topics in news.

In addition to using CNN’s worldwide newsgathering resources, King will integrate extensive reporting from the field nationally and globally. King will also incorporate innovative “Magic Wall” technology, which was instrumental during coverage of the 2008 election, to visually enhance reporting and story-telling.  The program also will offer up thoughtful conversation with regional experts, pundits and CNN analysts and contributors.

As CNN’s lead anchor for the network’s political coverage, Blitzer has moderated several of CNN’s presidential primary debates and anchored coverage of the key primary and caucus nights as well as Election Night 2008. He joined CNN in 1990.

King, who joined the network in 1997 after a 12-year career at the Associated Press, will continue to hold the title of chief national correspondent in addition to his new role as anchor.  He was an integral part of CNN’s innovative “America Votes 2008” coverage of the presidential campaign, traveling to important early election states to cover and interview major candidates, breaking news about campaign developments and pioneering the use of the CNN “Magic Wall.” During his time at CNN, he also served as the network’s senior White House correspondent.