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Friday, May 28, 2010

Your Views on the News May 28, 2010



We've posted article after article that look at what is wrong with CNN and how to 'fix' it. But amid all the discussion I think we've lost track of how far CNN has come from its humble start. Earlier this week Richard Huff, NY Daily News.com, wrote an article that looks back:

CNN has taken its lumps lately.

Campbell Brown is giving up her nightly show because of low ratings, Larry King has on- and off-camera woes, and the Fox News Channel long ago overtook CNN as the cable-news ratings champ.

Troubles aside, it is important to note that three decades ago next week, CNN changed the face of news.

"You feel like we deserve a little credit for that," says Will King, senior director of news operations for CNN International.

"Even the phrase 'news on demand,' though it's a phrase that's associated with the Web - June 1, 1980 established the ability for consumers to have news on demand," says King.

Think about it: Before 1980, the notion of news around the clock, delivered around the world, was unheard of. But a cable maverick from Atlanta named Ted Turner wanted to try. He did, barely succeeding at times, but he built the basic model for cable news.

King is one of the 14 staffers hired in 1980 who are still with CNN. He remembers the tough times early on, when payday was a concern.

"'You better get your check and go down to the bank and cash it early,'" he recalls the whispers. "'We hear the company doesn't have enough money to make payroll.' And sure enough, you could see people lined up at a nearby bank branch."

He laughs now, but King was a believer in the 2-4/7 news network from the start.

"I knew that was going to be a revolutionary idea. How many people in the profession they want to work in can do something that's truly revolutionary? It's like working in [Thomas] Edison's workshop."

So he left a job in Memphis for CNN in Atlanta to find a newsroom with some equipment still wrapped in plastic, and no indoor bathrooms. "Outside one of the exit doors were some Port-APotties," he says.

When CNN launched, it stood alone in the cable news arena. It took years before CNN staffers were treated on the same level as those of other news outlets.

But after continuous coverage of big stories like the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion; the 1987 coverage of the rescue of Jessica McClure, a toddler trapped for 59 hours in a well, and the start of the Gulf War in 1991, which King calls a "game changer" - CNN became a major player.

CNN launched CNN2, which eventually became HLN in 1982. Now CNN is seen in more than 200 countries and has paved the way for Fox News Channel, MSNBC and, one might argue, the Weather Channel.

"I'm very blessed to have been part of a company that has not only invented the genre," King says, "but has continued to set the bar for others to follow."

And they have.

"One of the jokes at the time was, 'What's the difference between CNN and the Hindenberg?'" King says, looking back to the network's launch. "The Hindenberg got off the ground."

The connection, while a joke in 1980, is notable. The Hindenberg disaster changed aviation history.

CNN, of course, changed TV history.



Yesterday Alex Weprin of TVNewser posted some facts and opinion about CNN's meeting on Thursday with their investors:

.....Time Warner hosted an "investor day" where CEO Jeff Bewkes and the various division chiefs gave updates on the state of the business. The above slide is from the presentation delivered by Phil Kent, the chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System, which oversees CNN.
(Note that this slide includes CNN U.S., CNN International, HLN and CNN Digital, so it is the combined revenue of three television networks and their respective online properties.)

Kent said that operating income for 2009 was approximately $500 million, slightly higher than the estimates made by SNL Kagan. CNN says this is the first time Time Warner has broken out financial numbers for its news division.

As you can see in the chart, and as we explained earlier this week, the heart of the CNN (and cable) business is subscription fees, which account for around 50% of total revenue. Advertising and ancillary revenue streams account for the other 50%.

CNN's pitch to investors and the press is that its business is healthy despite declining ratings in primetime. While it is true that CNN U.S. primetime only accounts for about 10% of revenue, it is still responsible for a disproportionate amount of advertising revenue on the flagship network. CNN as a whole can thrive financially even if its primetime stumbles, but it has to work harder to make up for it through the other two channels or its digital division.

Primetime -- across all television networks, not just CNN -- is still the most valuable real estate for media companies and advertisers, because of its reach and the ease of monetizing it. It is also an important factor in carriage negotiations. If CNN's carriage agreement with Cablevision is up for renewal, poor performance in primetime would be one of the cable company's arguments against a higher fee, which SNL Kagan estimates is currently $0.48 cents. Considering that carriage fees are the heart of CNN's business, it is not a fact to be taken lightly. Cablevision, Comcast or DirecTV are not interested in how well CNN.com is doing, because they are paying for the right to televise the channel and the rights to use CNN content on on-demand platforms, etc.

( Update: CNN says that when it renegotiates carriage fees the most important factors are total reach and the brand of the channel. In the case of CNN, the network's 30 year history and track record of covering breaking news events would play a significant role.)

The good news is that the company seems to be having success in driving new revenue streams. Digital advertising and sales (like the CNN iPhone app) account for about 10% of total revenue, the same as CNN U.S. primetime, and the company is looking to grow its wire service this year and next, selling CNN and CNN.com content to affiliates in need of content.

In the pie chart, the service is represented as "Domestic Linear Content" and "International Linear Content." It is also one of the four pillars for growing the news division, according to Kent's presentation. Kent refers to the wire service when he spoke of monetizing "content ownership." The other pillars: continued investment in journalism, managing costs, and extending its multi-platform reach.

The information revealed by CNN serves to confirm the fact that, at least for now, the dual revenue stream cable business model is strong enough to drive profits at a network, even if the programming isn't working. But as we argued, that cannot continue forever. CNN can do well even with primetime ratings troubles, but it will have a much easier time generating advertising revenue and negotiating for higher sub fees if its programming connects. Especially if the programming is from 8-11 p.m.








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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

CNN needs Ted Turner back in some sort of
role. Turner was also ridiculed by the press
and they were betting on CNN failing. Turner
had the last laugh because he was committed
to making CNN succeed and he could care less
what his critics had to say. Uncle Ted realized
that live television could have a huge impact.
In those days live tv was of significance to CNN.
The news was important to him because he
realized people have a thirst for knowledge.
I know he is just shaking his head at how
badly CNN is covering what even the CEO
of BP is now admitting is an environmental
catastrophe.I think CNN's coverage is just
so disappointing to those of us who turn
to CNN for breaking news. The crisis in
the Gulf is not the focus of the news.
Sadly, CNN 's content is being determined
by pundits,bloggers and talk radio.
Anderson,Wolf and the weekend people
are the only times I choose to watch CNN.
It would be great if CNN could show the
defiance of it's founder and say we are
about the news.It is totally irresponsible
to have reporters on the air comparing
this to Katrina and 9-11. I am not sure
that CNN even has a clue as to how to
cover America's worst oil spill.I really don't
understand how the events on the ground
are not being spotlighted more than the
pundits. Can someone tell CNN they had
to halt the top kill to do the junk shot..
You have to analyze the data and make
sure things are going right.CNN seems
to be missing that nothing like this has
never happened before and this is the
unknown. This is not an easy thing to pull
off and I am not sure that CNN gets it.
CNN seems to think we need opinion
on the disaster, no reporting necessary
here, the disaster is secondary. You won't
get the news from CNN because we don't
care about our viewers, we are more
important than the news.CNN has lost
it's way and gotten away from it's journalistic
standards and integrity,CNN is not a
cable news network anymore.

Anonymous said...

CNN made half a billion dollars. Unfortunately,
that is the bottom line for Time Warner.CNN is
a major player on all types of media and this is
going to always pay off. The CNN app is the best.
I love checking out CNN on the Ipad.I just hope
that CNN keeps a female in the prime time line
up. Right now I think they are about to become
the only cable news channel without a female
anchoring in prime time and that is a real shame.
Women played a vital role in the building of CNN.
Katie Couric got her start at CNN.

Anonymous said...

Why is CNN trying to convince us at every turn that they really doing well? If they were really doing that well, there would be no need to constantly tell us how well they were doing.

Anonymous said...

That is because of false rumors on the internet.
That can cause a company's stock to dive.
Case at point just this week, Disney was looking
to sell ABC.It turned out to be untrue. Has anyone
noticed that CNN is getting away from video and
actual reporting in prime time and going with
boring talk and rants. I guess they think they
can get away with being more boring. Television
is a visual medium.360 was not very good last
night for that very reason.I am not confident
that the management can come up with shows
that people will want to watch. Management
is about tho make things worst.CNN just
keeps dissing it's viewers. Prime time shows
void of news but just talk won't hold people's
attention. It is about content and story
telling and interesting news.It is as if CNN
wants people to come on and perform like
circus animals.We live in a digital visual
world. How many times do people say have
you seen the video. The reason Morning
Joe and Rachel Maddow are giving CNN
fits is because they are original shows.
Neither tries to do what is already out
there.It is as if creativity and innovation
have left the TW building.CNN trying to
be FNC or MSNBC will not work. Einstein
thought out of the box and was hugely
successful because of it. The same thing
applies to Steve Jobs. Right now CNN is
going with a formula for failure

Anonymous said...

Something is wrong when not one show
on CNN can bring in 1 million viewers with
a big news story like the Gulf spill. That says
2 things to me : people don't like the anchors
or care much for the content.AC 360 gains at
10 but it is not enough. It is as if viewers feel
they are not missing a thing.

A remarkable thing happened last night on
AC 360, Billy says the President asked him to
call him before calling 360. Can you say promo.
Just call it a 360 moment and end with the
phrase you never know what news will
happen. People watch tv for moments like this.

Anonymous said...

Ted Turner was just on talking with Fredericka.
He said his biggest regret was losing control of
CNN. Wow. He also said he would come back
but not just someone with a title but real authority.
He also said he would do hard news, and that is
the message, CNN has a different role than the
other networks. I think he was actually holding
back and it is no doubt in my mind his first
order of business would be firing Jon Klein.
He clearly does not like what is happening to
CNN. It is a real same that the man who
could do wonders for CNN is unable to help
because Time Warner management will
never let that happen. Ironically, he is the
man who hired Jeff Bewkes and Jim Walton.
Maybe they should give him a call because
say what you will about Ted Turner,at least
he gives it to you straight.

Anonymous said...

@1:07PM: So right...not a one hit a million and almost, doesn't count.
I believe it's content and Rich Sanchez combined.

The fact that the POTUS said to the Parish Preaident,to call him BEFORE he called 360, indicates that someone in the White House doesn't want anything leaked to the news media, be it CNN or MSNBC. Obama wants IT to seem as though he is in charge of the situation and nothing is out control...but he's not always responsive to NOLA's needs and wants....and right now, "Mr.President, we have a problem with no solution down here in the Gulf."

Anonymous said...

CNN was the first place many people turned to for their news when it was nationa, International, and breaking. Even Sadam Hussein watched CNN during the 1st Gulf War and they had to cut the wires so he would get no information. That was when news was first and foremost at CNN, now it is about gimmicks and celebrity anchors which is too bad.

But I blame Jon Klein for the downfall of the network. He is the one who doesn't seem to understand that the news itself should take center stage and not some anchor in a tight tee shirt. It's about informing people, not performing - get Ted Turner back he understands this more than anyone.

Anonymous said...

Ted Turner has no intention of taking over CNN again. He practically said that to Wolf in the SIT Room when he interviewed him. What happened during the Gulf war was very different than what is happening now. Sadly, people look at news and want to be entertained. Even this tragedy in our Gulf will hold our attention for so long and then something else will transpire. Although, now that the Top Kill procedure didn't work, CNN has said it might take until August to finally stop the oil from leaking. By then the entire wetlands will have been destroyed and all the wildlife with it. CNN should post a number for wildlife rescue and resources.

Anonymous said...

It is very simple why CNN's coverage is falling
short. If you go on YouTube, Facebook and
Twitter, you will see how much of the story
CNN is missing. Anderson Cooper, Reynolds
Wolf, Rob Marciano, David Mattingly and others
have been dome good work but CNN needs to
move away from rants. Right now they are
doing exactly what turns people off about big
media. Unless you work for CNN or connected
and know how to get on television it does not
matter. There is so much reporting to be done
and it is being missed because management
is telling their people to do this.It was wrong
for CNN to go on the air and say BP shipped
in workers just because one guy says so.
If you can prove what people are saying ,
rule number one is to say this is how this
person sees it. There are other people in the
Gulf who say things are a lot better with the
USCG and BP. When it comes to a major
crisis of this magnitude, no one should have
to babysit the media. People don't have time
for this,. Act responsibly CNN. For CNN to
put Rick Sanchez in prime time on this
story just shows they are not committed to
serious journalism or hard news. This is
someone who people regard as not being
too bright or good journalist, and being
fast and loose with the facts. Sanchez is
making CNN a laughing stock.It sends a
signal to viewers that CNN is not serious
or cares about what they are putting on
the news. Anchors of stature should be
CNN;s face for this story not clowns. You
have Anderson. Wolf, John King. John Roberts,
Don Lemon use them during this crisis
These are all people who understand
hard news and have shown us that they
are some of the best.At some point CNN
will get that their viewers don't like
Rick Sanchez. CNN deserves to be last
and you feel they are getting what they
deserve, Why is Jon Klein putting another
bad hire on a major news story. CNN
put the grown ups on the air and not
some one who is Ted Baxter.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why CNN puts the pundits
on the same level as their journalists with it's
coverage of the Gulf oil spill. Get the pundits
of the set now and replace them with scientists,
marine biologists,oceanographers, People from
science and technology mags, photographers
who are shooting amazing photos of the disaster,
environmentalists who have been warning us
of such a disaster taking place.CNN is leaving
some very major facts out of the story. First,
this is an unprecedented man made disaster
and we are in a place we have never been.
Secondly, this is a mile deep underwater,
basically an underwater volcano. Thirdly,
this is one gigantic science experiment
and of course BP and all of the people are
making it up as they go along because there
is no way humanly possible to fix this.BP
has to rely heavily on technology and
innovation.It is idiotic for CNN to be using
pundits for their coverage, this is not
political.If you can not add anything to
the equation get of the television. BP &
other oil companies, scientists and the
federal government are all in the same
boat, they will sink or swim together.
This is no time to be demonizing anyone,
time is of the essence and there is not a
minute to spare. Yes, BP needs to be held
accountable but they are a part of the
solution wether we like it or not, That
is the reality of the situation CNN.
Maybe someone at MIT, Cal Poly Tech,
Georgia Tech who can discuss the use
of robotics and technology that is
being used to help solve the crisis.
CNN is lowering the bar instead of raising
the bar. Doesn't CNN have reporters/crews
all along the Gulf? Am I supposed to believe
they are not coming across anything that
is interesting or worth reporting? Then
why are they there ? Pictures/video tell
the story not pundits. What qualifications
do pundits bring to the table? Absolutely
zero.CNN needs to be hiring science &
technology contributors from the Science
channel and other Discovery networks. Let's
not forget CNN made a dummy move by
dismantling it's science/environmental unit
and now it is proving to be a huge mistake.
How can you in this day and time not have
people working as a team on technology,
science and environmental issues ?

CNN is forgetting the essentials for anchors
covering a huge news story. They are
credibility,believability,trustworthiness,
intelligence,being able to grasp all of the
details of a very complex and complicated
matter and knowing the right questions to
ask.It is as if CNN has moved the switch
to self destruction. Perhaps, the people
who run CNN are on vacation for Memorial
Day, but they need to get back to minding
the store.I agree CNN has to go with the
heavyweights.CNN is the last ones who
need to be calling people clueless, they
need to look in the mirror. All major
media outlets get an F for their coverage.
This is symbolic of the breakdown of
cable news and news in general.No one
has any idea how to cover real news.
So much for Americans having a channel
to go to for major news events.Go to
the web for the best and the latest because
television news is failing the people. I
can go on Google and find out more info
than I will see on CNN in 24 hours.
Sadly, CNN is putting pundits on the air
because they are the only people CNN
has been hiring lately. They have the
nerve to say they have more than 100
people working this story. How come
viewers are being shafted and not shown
the fruits of their labor ? Give viewers 24/7
coverage in real time CNN. This not
brain surgery. Someone at CNN needs to
becoming up with a long term plan to
provide extensive coverage.CNN is not
giving us intelligent and informative news.
Can we get more live news from the
Gulf aided by pictures instead of having
to sit through useless coverage? This
is not the time for CNN to be auditioning
Rick Sanchez. Please please bring back
Ted Turner, he would never leave the
building and would be all over the news room.

Anonymous said...

I love Candy Crowley and Joe Johns. These 2
just exhibited their journalistic skills by calling
James Carville out for saying the response
would be different for the Ches Bay. There is
no way to prove this and what to do about the
wetlands in Louisiana is a different issue than
stopping the oil from destroying the wetlands.
I give them credit for not letting it go there.
IMHO Carville has too much control over CNN.
Having people come on and make accusations
is contributing to misinformation. I am with
Joe Friday just the facts and only the facts.
Donna Brazille also pointed out that this is about
the entire Gulf region as well. BP and other oil
companies employ a lot of people in the region.
The most pressing matter is to fix this, all of
the other issues can be discussed later and
need to be addressed.We also need CNN to
use more of their own journalists. Maybe
Sanjay Gupta, Tj Holmes or Chad Myers, etc
would ask different questions that someone
else is not thinking and your colleague has
your back and it is conversational and you
might actually learn something. I think it
was also a really good idea to have the
former Shell executive on the show. I was
unaware of the spill in the Mideast. CNN
go with the pros and use your best and
brightest talent for this story and book
better guests to offer insight and knowledge.
Come Tuesday, I hope CNN will announce
they are devoting the entire month of June to
show unprecedented coverage and pushing
the docs back to July. Yes a lot of people are
afraid of their lives being completely destroyed
and that is understandable.CNN should not
be contributing to those fears but providing
reporting that helps put things into perspective.
Lately there have been a lot of articles about
why we need CNN. This is one of those
moments that CNN was created for. CNN just
needs to step up to the plate and come up
with a clear mission for covering this story.
I really don't understand why the media
is not treating this story with the seriousness
that it deserves. Does anyone feel like the
media is not doing it's job, they should be
all over this story.MSNBC even aired a story
on Miss Bikini International today, a story
of no importance what so ever. Shame on
cable news.

blanchardchl said...

Why doesen't your reporters talk to the shrimpers who worked with the despersants not BP official, my family is working out there 3 weeks now some are sick and the statment that BP furnished them with protective equipment is a LIE my brothers and husband were never given any protection, the oil spill is substantially way north of our shores, BP is hiding the fact that we have the spill comming up our bayou now on our propertys.My brother told after all his years working in the gulf he has never seen so many turtles and large spicies of fish comming up to the surface they seem to be in destress

Anonymous said...

Bill Maher said an interesting thing two shows ago. At the time I thought it was a crazy idea that would just inflate the problem in the Gulf and cause more toxic waste to implode but here it is: Maher said the military should just come in an use some method to detonate BP's rig, right down to its core. He's an avid environmentalist and he just might be right. It would be faster and maybe cheaper and there would be toxic chemicals spread for miles, but once its over it's over.
Now it is just a slow agonizing death to the area with possibly the same ill effect.

Anonymous said...

CNN has got to go with 3 or 4 women in
prime time as anchors. Come up with a
smart,fast paced and original show that
is not already out there. I mean the female
journalists at CNN. Also, better story telling,
more pictures and more imagination than
the talking heads. I can name so many
women at CNN and CNN I. Broadcasters
must find a way to bring in more female
viewers. It must be a diverse ethnic mix
and don't talk down to viewers. Come
up with a good name like Girlfriend I've
Got Some News and something worth
watching. All broadcasters are being warned
you can no longer ignore women.
Everybody loves music and information.
Add in cool bump music and set up
a website for the program were viewers
can go and help contribute to the
playlist.It is time for CNN to quit being
afraid of female anchors. Women know
the news and make it so even the guys
would not mind watching with their
wives or girlfriends.No View style or
yelling. Right now CNN has techniques
that annoy me. Stop treating viewers
like they are idiots and telling me how
I am going to feel about something.
There is way more creative writing
than that.I think management is afraid
to be bold and scared of CNN's critics.
CNN must give viewers something they
fell they can't get from FNC or MSNBC.

Anonymous said...

I usually don't diparage the President and am respectful and was an Obama supporter, but many feel as I do, that Obama has let us down. I know some will say it is the results that count. What results?? He sat on this story, as the press did for 42 days. 42 days and a spill has become a gusher and yes, he is as much at fault as the press.
On TVN comments, some are calling the POTUS "OilBama." Personally, I feel this is quite fitting because he'll be wrapped up in OIL for the rest of his term and there may very well NOT be a second.
Calling it a "hole" was the most demeaning response I've read and heard and even repeating what his daughter said miminmized this event.
Shame on him and shame on his administration. As a former supporter I expected more.