Roger Ailes would not confirm or deny the bombshell rumor that Megyn Kelly is moving to the 9 pm primetime slot currently occupied by Sean Hannity. He did say that Megyn Kelly earned a better time period and would move to primetime.
In an interview at the 21st Century Fox investors conference in California today conducted by Fox Business Channel's Neil Cavuto, the Fox News Chairman and CEO declared that "All of our stars will be back."
Sean Hannity recently signed a long-term contract with the top-rated Fox News Channel, so his landing spot on the network programming schedule has yet to be determined. He could move to 10 pm Eastern, thereby supplanting Greta Van Susteren, or go earlier (and outside of prime time) at 7 pm, in place of Shepard Smith. Other permutations are of course possible, such as Van Susteren moving to weekend nights, even though Van Susteren claims she signed a contract that specifies otherwise. Bill O'Reilly will continue to be a mainstay at 8 pm Eastern given the powerhouse ratings of The O'Reilly Factor.
The 8-11 pm block is designed for commentary, similar to the op-ed section of your daily newspaper (if you still have a daily newspaper, that is), which is sometimes forgotten by the network's detractors.
Conceivably Hannity and Kelly could share co-hosting duties at 9 pm, but that seems highly unlikely.
In the conversation with Cavuto, Ailes also said that "I am making a few minor changes, but let me just say that since Fox News Channel came on, MSNBC and CNN have changed either their primetime lineup of shows or their primetime talent 64 times... I think maybe I've changed it five or six so you have to choose well in the first place and have the guts to stay with people who can do the job. And that's what I try to do."
Ailes added that "Hannity is a brand that many of our viewers love and want to see, and, as you know, is one of the nicest guys in the building."
As we reported previously, Ailes said he has big plans for Shephard Smith who does two FNC shows, one at 3 pm Eastern and another at 7 pm: "Shep and I have been working quietly on something we'll roll out probably in mid September on how news is presented... Shep is in my view the premiere newsman in the country. Everyone wanted to hire him; he agreed to stay with us."
Social media will also be a major part of the Fox News Channel going forward, Ailes noted: "I am a great believer in making changes that need to be made. You will see things, not just in talent -- and I think picking talent is one of the things that are essential to winning -- but also the rise of social media, the digital side of our unit is growing."
The Fox News boss also touted the success of The Five, the high-rated 5 pm Eastern program (that replaced Glenn Beck) with five panelists discussing the news of the today including former Huffington Post columnist Greg Gutfeld. "The Five is a big part of [the digital effort]. It appeals to young people, and it going to be a big Internet project for us as well."
What do you think of this apparent shakeup in the Fox News prime time lineup?
Added: Video of Roger Ailes interview: