Jon Klein Signs New Deal with CNN

CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein signed a new four-year deal to remain at the helm of the TV-news operation, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Klein will continue to report to Jim Walton, president of CNN/Worldwide.

Under Klein’s stewardship, the network has seen an overhaul in various dayparts.

In 2005, Klein made the call to cancel long-running current-events hour Crossfire. Jon Stewart set off a flurry of debate about such debate shows after a heated exchange with Crossfire host Tucker Carlson during which Stewart asserted that the kind of shouting match epitomized by Crossfire amounted to “political hackery.” A few months later, in January 2005, Crossfire was axed and Carlson was out.

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzerwas launched later that year and recently moved to three consecutive hours (4 p.m.-7 p.m.) to cover the primaries and caucuses. Last month, Lou Dobbs Tonight moved to 7 p.m. to accommodate the Situation Room move, and it has posted a 22% gain in viewers.

American Morning was remade earlier this year with new anchors John Roberts and Kieran Chetry, who abruptly left Fox News Channel earlier this year. But the morning show is struggling, posting an 18% decline in viewers and 36% in adults 25-54 for the month of November.

Anderson Cooper 360was also revamped and expanded on Klein’s watch. Originally launched in 2003 as a traditional news/talk hour, it was expanded to two hours in November 2005, displacing Aaron Brown's NewsNight. And while the show is down from its high point during the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it remains one of the network’s signature shows and the recipient of much promotional muscle.

Early next year, former NBC News political correspondent and weekend Today host Campbell Brown will launch her own show in the highly competitive 8 p.m. hour, where CNN has struggled to compete with Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor -- the longtime time-slot leader -- and MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Year-to-year (Jan. 1-Dec. 9, 2007, versus the same period in 2006), the network is up every hour from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. in the 25-54 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The network also broke ratings records with last month’s Republican YouTube debate, which was also notable for a smattering of controversy surrounding the network’s and YouTube’s failure to more thoroughly vet a questioner who had been on a gay-and-lesbian steering committee for Democratic candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Nonetheless, the YouTube debate attracted 4.4 million viewers, the most-viewed presidential debate in cable-news history.