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As Missing Plane Coverage Continues, ‘Crossfire’ Vanishes

Crossfire304x200One of CNN’s signature political shows remains off the air, despite the easing up of near-nonstop coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Today marks one month since “Crossfire” last aired. But it’s not for a lack of political news: the Affordable Care Act sign-up deadline, which lends itself to fiery debate, came and went; there have been primaries in several states leading up to the 2014 midterms, not to mention the jockeying for 2016, and then there’s the politics of foreign policy: Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and beyond.

A CNN spokesperson tells TVNewser the 6:30pmET show “will remain on hiatus this week, but will be back soon.”

CNN clearly sees value in the brand. Today at its Upfront, which TVNewser will be attending, the network will announce that “Crossfire Reloaded” is among the series from the new CNN Digital Studios.

The TV version of “Crossfire,” however, “is not easily adaptable to a single breaking news story, especially a missing airliner,” former senior executive at CBS, Fox, and Telemundo, Joe Peyronnin, tells TVNewser. Peyronnin says there’s a difference between “Crossfire” and news shows like those anchored by Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, and Anderson Cooper.

“To allow ‘Crossfire’ to run at the height of viewer interest [in the missing plane story] would risk losing many viewers and break CNN’s coverage momentum,” Peyronnin says.

From its first full month in October to its last two weeks on-air, the show lost -39% of its total viewer audience and lost -42% in the news demo. “Crossfire’s” replacement, a full-hour of “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” has drawn strong ratings over the past few weeks, and twice in March was the most-watched cable news show in the demo at 6pmET.

“The decision to pre-empt CNN’s schedule in the future will depend on the magnitude and relevance of the major news event,” Peyronnin says, adding, “the threshold is much lower with CNN than it is with Fox News or MSNBC.”

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