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CNN To Replace American Morning's Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien

CNN is replacing Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien as the hosts of the ratings-challenged American Morning with John Roberts and Kiran Chetry. The duo starts April 16.

Both O’Briens will remain on at the news network as correspondents. Soledad O’Brien, who joined CNN in 2003 to anchor the morning show, becomes a “special correspondent,” while Miles will focus on science and space, his expertise.

Roberts joined CNN in February, 2006  after 14 years as CBS, most notably as White House correspondent and Dan Rather’s main substitute on the Evening News. Chetry came to the network in Feb., 2007 after co-anchoring Fox News’ Fox & Friends.

CNN has pitched American Morning as a newsier alternative to broadcast morning shows’ mixed bag of news and features. The show has failed to consistently attract viewers, however. While up 3% in news’ target 25-54 demo during first quarter, it was off 6% with total viewers to 372,000. That put it only about 10,000 viewers in front of MSNBC’s fast-growing Imus in the Morning.

“We think we have a great show and approach and we want to do better,” said CNN U.S. President Jon Klein.

In announcing the change, Klein praised Roberts for being “a kick-ass reporter” and said there was “no stronger classic news anchor on television.” Of Chetry, he cited an “encyclopedic knowledge of CNN” and said, “one look at her tells you why she deserves the slot. She’s a fantastic anchor. She lights up the screen and she’s got a passion for news.”

Klein said shifting O’Brien and O’Brien to reporting roles was aimed at “matching on-air talent to their passion.” In Miles O’Brien’s case, Klein said that was his space and science reporting. In Soledad’s, he said the network “started to see glimmers of passion,” from her reporting on the tsunami in southeast Asia, Hurricane Katrina, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. papers.