Radio & Television News Association

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Could CW Lead to a CBS, CNN Union?

from Media Week:
Anthony Crupi
JANUARY 30, 2006 -

A successful launch of CW could very well presage a momentous transformation in how co-parents Time Warner and CBS Corp. gather and disseminate news. According to sources in both camps, CNN and CBS have never quite closed the door on the idea of merging their news operations, although the last formal talks were dissolved in 2003, thanks in large part to the financial distractions posed by Time Warner’s struggling AOL.

Now that the companies have sidled closer to each other, many observers expect merger talks to resume. “Some kind of combination is inevitable,” said Hal Vogel, principal of Vogel Capital Management. “The cost of having far-flung bureaus is way too high for any one organization to take on alone.”

Financial considerations aside, the affinities between CNN and CBS are inarguable. CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein served more than 20 years at CBS News before joining the cable news net in November 2004, so he knows the operation inside and out.

And like CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves, Klein has been searching for the formula that will propel his news organization into first place. “CBS clearly has been looking for a cable presence for awhile,” said Prof. Robert Thompson, director, Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. “If the evening news does finally die, it would hasten a lot of things…but I don’t think it will happen in the short term.” Vogel said Moonves’ impatience with CBS News could hasten a deal. “Whether it’s CBS and CNN or some other outlet, I can foresee a deal being made within 12-18 months.”“

It’s a good fit, but there’s still a lot of pride at stake,” said media analyst and author Jeff Alan. “CBS is going to give it one more go to make the news division profitable again…but in the long run, a news share is a better fix than simply putting Katie [Couric] or Diane [Sawyer] in the anchor chair.”


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