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Seeking a rebound, CNN turns to Charles Barkley, Gayle King

FILE- This photo file combo shows from left, Charles Barkley and Gayle King. TV hosts King and Barkley will headline a new primetime weekly CNN show. The network made the announcement Saturday, April 22, 2023. (AP Photo/File)

NEW YORK (AP) — TV personalities Gayle King and Charles Barkley will headline a new prime-time weekly CNN show, “King Charles,” debuting in the fall, the network announced Saturday as it tries to engineer a turnaround amid tumbling ratings.

CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht said in a statement that the show “will be an exciting new way we are delivering culturally relevant programming and unique perspectives to our audience, from two incredibly dynamic personalities.”

Licht said King will continue to anchor “CBS Mornings,” and former NBA star Barkley will continue his current role at Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.

Appearing on TNT to discuss the new show, King said she hadn't been looking for an additional job but relished the chance to work with Barkley.

“What I think is so great for the both of us is that it’s live TV,” she said. “To me, live TV is like working without a net. So whatever happens, happens. I like that.”

The duo said they'd talk about politics but that the show would not be political.

“We don’t want to say, ‘We’re a liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat,'" Barkley said. “That’s one of the things that’s already ruined television in general.”

Cable news ratings are down across the board compared to 2022, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was fresh in the news. CNN’s dip has been most dramatic — 61% in prime time in March.

CNN is a year into new corporate management with Warner Bros. Discovery, which hired ex-CBS producer Licht to run the network.

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Licht’s revamp of “CNN This Morning” last fall was plagued with bad publicity in the wake of co-host Don Lemon’s ill-advised reference to a woman’s “prime” years, which offended many.