No surprise. A refresher on the timeline: Sources told the NYT this would happen as far back as November 24, prompting a formal denial by Fox exec Bill Shine the next day followed by a shot across the bow from an unnamed FNC “insider” who insisted, “Hannity cannot carry the show alone for an hour like O’Reilly.” I wonder if it was a fait accompli all along and they were just jerking us around for whatever reason or if they were honestly skeptical of the idea and needed time to test out the new format until they felt comfortable with it.

TVNewser has learned Fox News will debut a new program at 9pmET, entitled “Hannity,” featuring Sean Hannity as host. The program premieres January 12.

“Hannity” will include a “Great American Panel” of three nightly in studio guests — a liberal, a conservative and an “X factor.” The show will mix commentary, interviews and special segment like a “Hate Hannity Hotline.”

Unless there are other changes I’m not aware of, the lineup from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. will be Shep, Cavuto, Glenn Beck, Special Report with Bret Baier likely hosting, Shep again, O’Reilly, and Hannity. Nary a woman or liberal in sight (Shep doesn’t count) until Greta, and of course her show’s not political aside from the occasional Palin piece. For the record, “Hannity solo” did indeed end up narrowly winning TV Newser’s poll — after members of his online forum literally spent weeks spamming it. The results of Hot Air’s poll were, er, different, needless to say.

In FNC’s defense, after 12 years the formula at nine had gotten stale, especially head to head with Maddow. And there are worse fates than having a guy with 15 million radio listeners primed to attack a Democratic president and Congress in primetime. Even so, condolences to KP, whom the Foxies inexplicably continue to take for granted despite her popularity even among a readership as stalwartly conservative as ours. I don’t understand why she’s not on the “Special Report” panel, a format much better suited to her sensibility than tossing molotovs from the bunker as the token liberal on H&C. The excuse, I presume, is that she doesn’t (yet) have the journalistic credentials the rest of the panel has; why you or I, as viewers, should remotely care about that is beyond me. Certain members of that august body have been known to read (and, ahem, quote from) this blog from time to time, so hopefully this will get their attention. How about it, BK?

One last poll for the road.