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Alan Colmes To Leave "Hannity & Colmes," Will Not Be Replaced

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Update: While the blogosphere has been buzzing with suggestions for who should replace Alan Colmes, who is relinquishing his role as one half of Fox News' 9PM duo, Colmes' co-host will be moving forward with the program solo, reports the New York Times' Brian Stelter:

While the network remained quiet about its plans for the political debate program, two people close to the network said that Sean Hannity, 46, Mr. Colmes's conservative counterpart for the last 12 years, would become the sole host of the hour. The people requested anonymity while speaking about private deliberations.

Original Post: Fox News host Alan Colmes will leave his role as co-host of "Hannity & Colmes" at the end of the year, the network announced Monday.

Colmes, who has co-hosted the program with Sean Hannity for 12 years, will remain with the network as a liberal commentator and will develop a weekend program, in addition to his radio show.

"I approached Bill Shine (FNC's Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network," Colmes said. "Although it's bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I'm proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years."

Hannity added, "Not only has Alan been a remarkable co-host, he's been a great friend which is rare in this industry -- I'll genuinely miss sparring with such a skillful debate partner."

Earlier this year, Colmes debuted his blog, Alan Colmes' LiberalLand.

Update: Colmes tells TVNewser that Obama's victory plus wide Democratic margins in Congress paved the way for him to leave:

"It's a great creative opportunity for me. I feel as though we have a Democratic President, House and Senate; I feel like my work is done," he tells TVNewser. "I can't think of a better time to make the transition."

Full press release below:

ALAN COLMES TO DEPART TOP RATED HANNITY & COLMES

FOX News Channel's (FNC) Alan Colmes will relinquish his role as co-host of Hannity & Colmes at the end of the year.

In announcing his decision, Colmes said, "I approached Bill Shine (FNC's Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network. Although it's bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I'm proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years."

Colmes will continue to have a presence on FNC as he will serve as a liberal commentator on a variety of FOX News programming, including Foxnews.com's The Strategy Room and continue hosting his radio program, The Alan Colmes Show on FOX Talk, a division of FOX News Radio. He will also begin developing a weekend program.

Shine said, "We're very sorry to see Alan reach this decision but we understand his desire to seek other creative challenges in his career. We value his incredible hard work in making Hannity & Colmes the most successful debate program on cable news and we're going to miss him on the show. Thankfully, he will begin developing a weekend pilot for us."

FOX News Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Roger Ailes added, "Alan is one of the key reasons why FOX News has been such a remarkable success. We're sad to see him leave the program but we look forward to his ongoing contributions to the network."

Hannity & Colmes is the only FNC program which has remained in the same timeslot for 12 years, catapulting to number one in 2003 and never relinquishing the top spot. The second highest-rated program in cable news behind only The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes averaged 3.3 million viewers nightly for the Nielsen month of October and is poised to mark 60 consecutive months at number one at the end of November.

Hannity added, "Not only has Alan been a remarkable co-host, he's been a great friend which is rare in this industry -- I'll genuinely miss sparring with such a skillful debate partner."

Throughout his 12 year tenure on Hannity & Colmes, Colmes has interviewed numerous key political figures, including: President Elect Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), DNC Chairman Howard Dean and former Vice President Al Gore.

FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour general news service covering breaking news as well as political, entertainment and business news. For nearly seven years, FNC has been the most watched cable news channel in the nation. Owned by News Corp., FNC is available in more than 90 million homes.