MSNBC, Olbermann Call It Quits, Cancel Show

Cable host Keith Olbermann and the news channel MSNBC abruptly parted ways Fri night, as the network announced that his contract had ended and the last installment of his show would air that evening.

The surprise announcement strips MSNBC of its most-watched evening anchor after an increasingly tempestuous relationship, coming less than 3 months after the network briefly suspended the fiery host.

"MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," the network said in an emailed statement just before the end of Mr. Olbermann's program.

MSNBC and Mr. Olbermann have been discussing ending his contract for some time, according to a person familiar with the matter. Neither side offered an explanation for their split. On the air, Mr. Olbermann said Friday would be his last show, and thanked viewers and staff.

The quick change set off a game of musical chairs, as MSNBC moved to fill the hole Mr. Olbermann will leave behind. The network said its 10 p.m. host Lawrence O'Donnell would move into Mr. Olbermann's 8 p.m. slot beginning on Monday.

Ed Schultz, who's hosted a 6 p.m. show on MSNBC since 2009, will take over Mr. O'Donnell's 10 p.m. time slot.

Executives have said tensions between Mr. Olbermann and the network have been running high since their spat in November, when the host was suspended for making 3 donations to Democratic candidates without seeking approval beforehand.

Mr. Olbermann missed 2 broadcasts during his suspension. MSNBC asked Mr. Olbermann to make a public apology for running afoul of its ethics rules before reinstating him, according to a person familiar with the matter. But Mr. Olbermann resisted so long as MSNBC kept him suspended, the person said.


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