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Soledad O'Brien Leaving CNN Morning Show; Launching Production Company

Soledad O'Brien will depart CNN's morning show Starting
and start her own production company, which will have a production
and distribution agreement with CNN, the network announced Thursday.

O'Brien's company, called Starfish Media Group, will launch
in June and produce three long-form programming specials for CNN in 2014,
including new installments of O'Brien's Black
in America
series. Starfish, with CNN, will also be the exclusive
distributor of O'Brien's previous documentaries.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, O'Brien will be free to
provide documentaries to other outlets if CNN initially passes on the projects, or take hosting or reporting
jobs at other networks. She
told the New York Times on Thursday
she will leave Starting Point
this spring.

O'Brien's exit from CNN's mornings had been assumed for
weeks, ever since new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker hired ABC's Chris Cuomoto headline a new morning show, likely with current primetime host Erin

"We greatly value Soledad's experience, and her
first-rate storytelling will continue to be an asset to CNN," said Zucker in a
statement Thursday. "Documentaries and long-form story telling are important to
our brand and we're anticipating more of what we've come to expect from her --
riveting content."

O'Brien was moved from documentaries to CNN's mornings in January 2012 to launch the 7-9 a.m. program Starting Point, which replaced the moribund American Morning. The change did nothing to boost the timeslot's ratings however. Starting Point averaged 234,000 viewers in 2012, and occasionally fell below sister network HLN's Morning Express.