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Longtime Fox News contributor Shepard Smith shocked viewers last week when he announced during a broadcast of Shepard Smith Reporting that he was leaving the network. Smith, who had been part of the super successful Fox News from its very beginning, leaves some big shoes to fill, and Fox News has revealed how it will handle replacing him in the aftermath of his departure.

The network isn't looking to immediately hand over Shepard Smith's full 3 p.m. ET time slot to a newcomer or one single existing Fox News contributor. Rather, the hour will be filled in by stints from existing Fox News anchors throughout the hour.

As such, Variety reports that among the Fox News contributors who will appear in the 3 p.m. slot are Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Shannon Bream, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer, and John Roberts. The content of the hour will remain "a solid news hour" with the network's "best news stars," according to Fox News Media president and executive editor Jay Wallace. Shepard Smith's last Fox News broadcast was Friday, October 11.

Shepard Smith's departure apparently surprised Fox News staffers on top of Fox News viewers, although Smith's statement about why he was leaving indicates that it was his decision rather than another example of Fox News firing a contributor. In fact, he said that Fox News wanted him to stay, but the brass ultimately respected his wishes and let him out of his contract.

That said, the terms of Shepard Smith's contract evidently will prevent him from "reporting elsewhere" in the near future. Still, he didn't come across as too broken up about it, stating that he would now have more time to spend with his partner, Giovanni Graziano, and their dog Lucia.

Shepard Smith has kept mum on any details regarding why he wanted to leave Fox News; only time will tell if and when those details ever come out. For now, Fox News viewers can count on getting the news from many people rather than just Smith in the 3 p.m. slot. That won't always be the case, though.

Fox News will reportedly likely debut a new news-focused hour of programming in the 3 p.m. block in 2020 with a specific anchor leading the broadcast, rather than broadcasts comprised of stints from existing Fox News personalities. The network will reportedly consider giving the slot to one of its existing staffers, but Jay Wallace also suggested that a candidate outside of the current Fox News lineup may land the job instead.

Whatever happens, it should be interesting to see if the ratings for Fox News are impacted. The network has been dominant on the cable news circuit for years, despite controversies such as that surrounding Justice with Judge Jeanine, led by Jeanine Pirro, which went off the air for weeks earlier in 2019. Still, MSNBC was able to beat Fox News in weekday ratings for the first time in 18 years by the end of 2018.

See how Fox News makes up for the loss of Shepard Smith weekdays at 3 p.m. ET. If you're in the mood for some TV options hailing from other networks, swing by our 2019 fall TV premiere schedule.

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