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Exclusive: CNN Developing Morning Show

Network said to be testing format akin to “Fox & Friends,” “Morning Joe”

CNN – which has been shuffling its weekend and evening lineups of late – is developing a new morning show pilot, with a format closer to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “Fox & Friends” than anything it has ever done, TheWrap has learned.

A representative for CNN had no comment.

But according to one source familiar with the network’s development process, CNN is testing a concept that would include personalities with dueling political ideologies and opinions. That would be a bit of a departure for CNN, which considers itself to be a bipartisan, journalistically-driven network unlike its rivals at Fox News and MSNBC. (CNN does have a roving band of politically-charged commentators like Mary Matalin and Ed Rollins, but other than Lou Dobbs and the late "Crossfire," never had them host.)

A CNN insider, however, stressed that the programming and talent department are “always testing new talent” and formats, and that the pilot in question is not similar to “Morning Joe.”

It’s also unclear how the pilot would affect CNN’s current a.m. offering, “American Morning.” While the show, hosted by Kiran Chetry and John Roberts, is in second place in the ratings behind “Fox & Friends,” the gap is widening.

According to Nielsen, “American Morning” is down 30 percent across the board in 2010, drawing an average of about 364,000 total viewers and 137,000 in the 25-to-54-year-old demo.  (It’s worth noting HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade” is beating “American Morning” in the demo.) “Fox & Friends” draws approximately 1,108,000 total viewers and 383,000 in the 25-54 demo, increases of 8 and 15 percent, respectively. “Morning Joe,” with an average 346,000 total viewers and 103,000 in the demo, is down 22 and 39 percent, respectively.

However, the CNN insider said that any show being tested is not necessarily tied to a specific timeslot – translation: even if the new “morning show” pilot were a hit, it could, in theory, be slotted anywhere in the lineup.

It’s also unclear what any of this means for Roberts and, specifically, Chetry.  Chetry was scooped up by CNN in 2007 after a nasty split with Fox News.