HOT cable television viewers now have a replacement for CNN, after MSNBC launched its channel Tuesday.

HOT dumped CNN from its package in November after refusing to match the terms of their previous contract because CNN has slipped behind Fox News as the top-rated news network. MSNBC, which is owned by NBCUniversal, will be available exclusively to HOT subscribers.

MSNBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell hosted her daily news program from Israel on Tuesday, interviewing opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Earlier the same day, Mitchell and company president Phil Griffin spoke at the channel’s official launch in Tel Aviv.

Mitchell has covered Israel extensively in more than three decades at NBC News, but she said nothing could match the thrill of presenting her program, Andrea Mitchell Reports, from here. She said Israel has been part of her identity since her parents took her in her stroller to a New York parade for the newborn state’s independence.

Griffin said recent visits here had taught him that Israelis value information and debate, and said Israel and MSNBC shared the same “start-up nation spirit.”

MSNBC was launched purely as a headline news channel in 1996, he said, but a decade later it made the decision to provide more in-depth coverage.

“When we did that our audience and revenue soared... In other words, getting smart worked.”

Both speakers said this was an opportune time to introduce their channel to Israelis, given that Israel would be a central theme in the Republican primaries and the 2012 US presidential elections. Griffin said, “Our audience cares about what’s going on here. Every Israeli has a friend or family member in the United States, and now they will have a unique window into America.”

HÍOT vice president of content Yoram Mokady said Israeli media should treat MSNBC’s entry into the local market as a chance to learn how professionals report the news.

“We’re very proud of our newspapers and our news channels, but at times it’s good to see how the professionals do things abroad, and this is a great opportunity.”

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