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MSNBC Programs Start Giving More Space to NBC News Logos

Variety logo Variety 3/23/2017 Brian Steinberg
© Provided by Variety

It’s no secret that anchors and reporters from NBC News have had a greater presence on their parent company’s cable outlet, MSNBC. Now, the network is making sure that viewers know about it in no uncertain terms.

Since Saturday, MSNBC has featured the NBC News logo more prominently on its air, such as when MSNBC programs break for commercials, and on the primary set for the network’s daytime programs, which feature NBC News staffers like Andrea Mitchell, Katy Tur, and Kate Snow. During on-screen interviews between people in the company’s New York and Washington, D.C., studios the locations are now being identified as “NBC News – New York” and “NBC News – Washington.” The NBC News logo has also been made an element in some scenic elements of the daytime sets, according to the network.

“As MSNBC’s dayside has made a strategic shift to breaking news coverage over the past year and half – to fantastic results – we’ve benefited greatly from our unique ability to draw on the talent and resources of NBC News,” the network said in a statement. “This is just one more way to communicate to viewers that we are one news organization.”

Since Andrew Lack took the reins as chairman of NBC News Group in the spring of 2015, he has placed an emphasis on transforming MSNBC’s daytime schedule into one more focused on breaking-news coverage, rather than echoing the network’s primetime schedule, which tends to provide analysis of the news cycle through a progressive lens. Gone are programs hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz. In their place are a new daily edition of “Meet the Press,” a new show featuring former Fox News host Greta van Susteren, and frequent appearances by Brian Williams during moments of great import. One recent MSNBC promo throws a spotlight on veteran Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell trying to elicit a comment from a silent U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

MSNBC has seen ratings growth in recent months. The network says its daytime programming in March to date has seen overall viewership growth of 48% and  is the fourth-most viewed schedule among all cable networks.

In an October, 2015, interview with Variety, Lack indicated NBCUniversal had “a lot of programming ideas” in store. Since that time, the network has also given Sunday berths to Joy Reid and Ari Melber, and begun to focus more intently on newsy specials and events. In recent weeks, “Morning Joe” has generated a lot of attention as viewers try to suss out how Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski feel about President Donald Trump. Primetime host Chris Hayes hosted a town hall with Senator Bernie Sanders in West Virginia, and Rachel Maddow has garnered outsize ratings for her progressive commentary about the Trump-dominated news cycle (along with a broadcast about a portion of the President’s 2005 tax returns).

MSNBC launched in July of 1996 as a joint venture of Microsoft Corp and NBC. But Microsoft hasn’t been part of the equation since Microsoft divested its stake in the cable network in 2005 (and its ownership of msnbc.com in 2012). NBC News might lend the network a more established identity as it vies more directly with Time Warner-owned rival CNN.

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