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CNN Headline News pulls ahead of MSNBC in ratings

Associated Press

CNN Headline News has supplanted MSNBC as the third-place cable news channel.

CNN’s sister network recently started a new prime-time lineup that has gotten off to a strong start, particularly a legal-oriented talk show with Nancy Grace.

The new format replaced the continuous half-hour newscasts that CNN Headline News still carries for most of the day. But in its first month, the changes enabled the network to eclipse MSNBC in the prime-time ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research.

For the full day, CNN Headline News also beat MSNBC for the first three months of the year.

Fox News Channel remains far and away the most popular cable news outlet, and its prime-time average of nearly 1.9 million viewers for the first quarter is up 14 percent over the first three months of 2004 – an impressive increase considering last year was an election year.

CNN’s prime-time average of 896,000 was down 1 percent from last year, Nielsen said. Headline News’ prime-time average was 337,000 viewers, compared to MSNBC’s 328,000.

“Headline News has brought new viewers to cable news and in the end that will be good for everyone,” MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said.

According to published reports, NBC Universal has been in talks with Microsoft about dissolving their partnership and taking MSNBC over completely.

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