Brian Williams is expected to get his own time slot on MSNBC between Labor Day and Election Day, according to sources with knowledge of the plan.
According to the plan, Williams will anchor a special 11 p.m. program wrapping up the day’s campaign news, the sources said.
The plan is subject to change until the scheduling move is officially announced. But the Williams program has been under consideration for weeks inside MSNBC.
One of the sources said it will be a half hour show, with MSNBC’s usual replays of prime time programming picking up at 11:30 p.m.
So Williams won’t quite be in “late night” — competing directly with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert — but he will wrap up the day for MSNBC.
A spokesman for the channel declined to comment on Monday.
With a nightly program, even a temporary one, Williams will be coming full circle at MSNBC.
He anchored a prime time newscast at MSNBC when the channel launched in 1996. Later he rose to the top of the NBC News hierarchy, anchoring the “NBC Nightly News” for a decade.
But he was removed from the “Nightly News” chair last year amid a controversy over exaggerated stories.
After a six-month suspension, he returned to MSNBC last September as the channel’s chief breaking news anchor, appearing during the daytime to cover developing stories and special events.
Williams has not had a regularly scheduled time slot up until now, so the 11 p.m. program will be a significant milestone.
By giving it a two-month time span, signaling that it will end after Nov. 8, MSNBC is giving Williams an anchoring opportunity while limiting the potential downsides.
MSNBC and Fox News typically repeat their 8 p.m. programs at 11 p.m. Eastern. CNN sometimes has reruns too, but frequently airs a live hour of “CNN Tonight.”
This month MSNBC has been trying out some live programming in the 11 p.m. hour, foreshadowing the post-Labor Day plan.
Lately the channel has been edging closer to CNN on a total day basis in the key demographic of adults 25 to 54.
During prime time, between 8 and 11 p.m., the two channels have been locked in a night-to-night race, with MSNBC winning most evenings since the conventions. Fox News out-rates both channels.