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Megyn Kelly to square off against Kelly Ripa in the fall

Kelly Ripa introduces the permanent co-host to her "LIVE" show, Ryan Seacrest in New York, U.S.,in this picture received Monday May 1, 2017. The show's new name is “Live with Kelly and Ryan”.Pawel Kaminski/Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution/Handout via REUTERS

LOS ANGELES - In the next round of TV-network morning wars, the battle to watch will be Kelly vs. Kelly.

Megyn Kelly's new NBC morning program will launch at 9 a.m. in the fall, according to an NBC News spokeswoman, meaning the popular former Fox News Channel anchor will square off in many markets against a retooled "Live," the syndicated ABC program led by Kelly Ripa. ABC said Monday morning that she will be joined as co-host by Ryan Seacrest after a year of working with an array of guests.

The scheduling suggests that both network see the mid-morning -- typically viewed as a time when many viewers have left their living rooms and gone to work -- as a time slot with audience worth fighting for. The TV networks' morning scrum has always been feistiest during the hours between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., when "Today," "Good Morning America," and "CBS This Morning" duke it out for the toast-and-eggs crowd. But this move could focus new attention on the time slot. Both networks announced their moves as TV's annual "upfront" market, where U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season to advertisers.

NBC has not announced whether Kelly's show will be part of "Today," or portrayed as separate from that enterprise. A third hour of today, long co-hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, is likely to remain at its current 10 a.m. roost.

NBC News has already moved forward on a separate Kelly project, a Sunday news-magazine that will be overseen by veteran "Dateline" producers David Corvo and Liz Cole. Kate Snow is expected to contribute to the program, which is slated to launch in June.

NBC News is placing a big bet on Kelly: She will compete with CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sundays and with two of TV's most enduring personalities -- Ripa and Seacrest -- during the week.

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