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CNN Head Shrugs Off Fox News Ratings Rivalry (CNN Admits Defeat)
Reuters ^ | July 10, 2003 | Steve Gorman

Posted on 07/10/2003 8:20:54 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War

RPT-CNN Head Shrugs Off Fox News Ratings Rivalry

Thu July 10, 2003 08:35 PM ET

Jim Walton, president of the CNN News Group of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., speaks to television critics during his presentation at the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Hollywood July 10, 2003 along with CNN news anchors Paula Zahn (L) and Soledad O'Brien. Walton discussed the cable news networks programming changes, which includes Zahn's new evening and O'Brien's new morning news programs.

Photo by Fred Prouser/Reuters

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As CNN reshuffles its anchor lineup, the head of the network said on Thursday he cares more about reclaiming CNN's hard-news roots than in regaining ratings supremacy from archrival Fox News Channel.

"I don't get caught up in that," newly installed CNN president Jim Walton said during the cable network's presentation at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

Walton said his chief goal was to gradually build on CNN's own performance as the network seeks to renew itself as the "best ... electronic news organization in the world."

He reiterated CNN's renewed emphasis on presenting straight news while steering away from commentary and the kind of tabloid-style show previously hosted by Connie Chung. Walton pulled the plug on Chung's program after replacing Walter Isaacson as head of the network.

"We might have more tabloid, more sensation more opinion in what we do and our ratings might jump up, but that would hurt the value of what we do," he said.

Walton quickly added that he did not mean to suggest that Fox News was trading on sensationalism. But he seemed to be alluding to Fox in offering a wristwatch analogy to downplay the significance of CNN's No. 2 standing in U.S. cable news ratings. "I really don't think Rolex cares how many watches Timex sells," he said.

Fox News again led all cable news outlets in the second quarter of 2003, with more than half of all prime-time viewership, according to newly released figures from Nielsen Media Research.

Still, Walton insisted that CNN, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc., was more profitable, saying, "We make more per 30-second commercial than any of our competitors, by far." He declined to offer figures.

Fox News officials disputed Walton's assertion, saying the News Corp Ltd.-owned network outsold CNN by at least $30 million in the recent "upfront" advertising market.

While CNN may earn more revenue on a per-subscriber basis, or when lumping together its own ad revenues with those from CNN Headline News and over-the-air local news feeds, Fox News brings in more money on a straight network-to-network comparison, said Roger Domal, Fox News' national sales director.

Walton was joined by four members of CNN's new anchor team -- Paula Zahn, Anderson Cooper, Bill Hemmer and former NBC News weekend anchor Soledad O'Brien, who debuted this week as co-host with Hemmer on CNN"s "American Morning."

Zahn recently has moved from her morning roost to prime time as host of a new 8 p.m. program following Cooper's new show at 7 p.m. They are being preceded by Lou Dobbs at 6 p.m. and followed by Larry King and Aaron Brown.

Walton shed little light on how the four evening news anchors will distinguish themselves, but suggested the right mix of news and personality would be key factors in winning viewers. He said Cooper would anchor a "a fast-paced, high-story-count" program with "a very broad range" of topics, while Zahn would host "more of an issues show."

Walton was adamant about one stylistic feature of CNN -- saying that while he "hates" the news ticker that crawls along the bottom of CNN's screen, it would remain because market research shows viewers overwhelmingly like it.



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: aaronbrown; andersoncooper; billhemmer; cablenewsnetwork; chickennoodlenews; cnn; fnc; fox; foxnews; foxnewschannel; jimwalton; larryking; paulazahn; soledadobrien
Boy, those three look happy, don't they?

No matter how Walton tries to spin it, the truth of the matter is obvious: CNN management knows it doesn't have the brainpower in its newsrooms to create better shows than Fox, so they're going to stop trying. Instead, they're going to simply claim to be more elitist: "I really don't think Rolex cares how many watches Timex sells," he said.

Well, that trick won't work either, Jimmy Boy. First of all, Rolex DOES care how many watches Timex sells, because if Timex gets its $20 watch on someone's wrist, that's still one less wrist to sell to. Second, Rolex makes a product WORTH paying more for; CNN creates a free product that is sinking precisely because its quality has fallen through the floor, and talking up its alleged quality will not make said quality magically reappear. And third, The dirty little secret of cable news is that the truly rich viewers, those that make >$150K, have always preferred MSNBC, of all places. The true Rolex owners are ignoring CNN too.

Also, this is the serious nut graph:

While CNN may earn more revenue on a per-subscriber basis, or when lumping together its own ad revenues with those from CNN Headline News and over-the-air local news feeds, Fox News brings in more money on a straight network-to-network comparison, said Roger Domal, Fox News' national sales director.
The only reason CNN earns more on a per-subscriber basis is because Fox launched before digital cable came along, back in the days where the common wisdom was that "there's no more room for any new channels." So the only way Rupert Murdoch was able to get carriage was to pay the cable companies to carry FNC, when usually the cable companies have to pay the networks. Now that Fox is the #1 news channel and the #2 cable network period, those "we pay you" deals are not going to be renewed. When those contracts are up, the local cable companies are going to have to start paying through the nose to carry FNC, and they won't have any choice but to pay(imagine the firestorm if they tried to drop the one conservative channel and alienate 50% of their subscribers!). At that point, FNC will be far more profitable than CNN across the board, and will finally be able to invest like hell in a bigger newsroom, more staffers, more bureaus, perhaps an FNC International ... they will really be able to run CNN into the ground permanently.

If I recall correctly, those FNC contracts with cable companies around the nation start expiring in 2006 (yup, Rupert had to make ten-year deals to get them to make room for Fox News at all). That gives CNN to get their act together ... and instead they're only trending further downward.

Ha ha ha!

1 posted on 07/10/2003 8:20:55 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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2 posted on 07/10/2003 8:24:13 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Dont Mention the War
"I really don't think Rolex cares how many watches Timex sells," he said.

So CNN considers itself a "serious news" operation.

Were they into these acclaimed serious decisions when they kowtowed to Saddam so they could get air time? When they allowed murders to go unreported so they could curry favor with Saddam? When they allowed a positive image of life in Iraq to be broadcast worldwide so they could curry favor with Saddam?

And all of this admitted to by the head of their own network.

Should Timex care how expensive Rolex claims to be when Timex discovers that Rolex secretly gets their parts from the garbage dump.

3 posted on 07/10/2003 8:27:53 PM PDT by xzins
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To: Dont Mention the War
C-N-who?
4 posted on 07/10/2003 8:29:31 PM PDT by South40 (Get Right Or Get Left)
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To: xzins
If I was Timex, I wouldn't be advertising with CNN anymore.
5 posted on 07/10/2003 8:32:53 PM PDT by Paul Atreides
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To: Dont Mention the War
But they brought in Connie Chung to save CNN from the septic tank... Weren't they pleased with her?
6 posted on 07/10/2003 9:03:20 PM PDT by Savage Beast ("I'm a loving man, but I have a job to do." ~President George W. Bush)
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To: StarFan; Dutchy; Gracey; Alamo-Girl; RottiBiz; lonevoice; bamabaseballmom; FoxGirl; Mr. Bob; ...
FoxFan ping!

Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my infrequent FoxFan list.

7 posted on 07/10/2003 9:04:25 PM PDT by nutmeg
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To: Dont Mention the War
A friend and I were having lunch a few days ago and were sitting in front of a TV monitor showing CNN. My buddy commented that CNN had more young reporter-ettes than they used to, i.e. they're reducing themselves to using soft porn to gain more viewers. Why don't they just take Howard Stern's lead and hire hot lesbians to make out in front of the camera to gain ratings?
8 posted on 07/10/2003 9:05:43 PM PDT by randog (Everything works great 'til the current flows.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
FOX ROXS...TURNER CNN'T
9 posted on 07/10/2003 9:11:49 PM PDT by fish hawk
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To: nutmeg
Thanks for the heads up!
10 posted on 07/10/2003 9:14:23 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Dont Mention the War
Every single time I sit down with a CNN ad rep, they stack the combined reach of Headline News & CNN in order to have their "bar" raise above FOX News in thier little powerpoint presentations.
11 posted on 07/10/2003 9:15:30 PM PDT by sf4dubya
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To: Dont Mention the War

12 posted on 07/10/2003 9:22:10 PM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: Dont Mention the War
Great review!

Yuk, Paula Zhan.
13 posted on 07/10/2003 9:28:22 PM PDT by Libertina (If speech is restricted because it 's harsh, it isn't free.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
.
14 posted on 07/10/2003 9:50:44 PM PDT by jdontom (BacktheBadge)
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To: jdontom
?
15 posted on 07/10/2003 9:58:26 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: Dont Mention the War
This old and tired leftist network still thinks their lies are being believed. Paula doesn't look very happy the poor dear. BWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
16 posted on 07/10/2003 10:11:48 PM PDT by teletech (Have we dug up Saddam yet?)
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To: Dont Mention the War
Formerly the Clinton News Network

Now the Clueless News Network.

Keep it up, Walton, and you'll be passed by a revived MSNBC.

17 posted on 07/10/2003 11:26:41 PM PDT by AmericanVictory (Should we be more like them, or they like us?)
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To: Paul Atreides
Good point.

Hope they read this guy's comments.
18 posted on 07/11/2003 2:30:53 AM PDT by xzins
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: Full Auto Stop
Yup.
20 posted on 07/11/2003 9:13:27 AM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: Dont Mention the War
Walton quickly added that he did not mean to suggest that Fox News was trading on sensationalism. But he seemed to be alluding to Fox in offering a wristwatch analogy to downplay the significance of CNN's No. 2 standing in U.S. cable news ratings. "I really don't think Rolex cares how many watches Timex sells," he said.

Right after they mentioned this on Fox and friends this AM, they went on and on how their ROLEX watches suck and lose several minutes a day. ROFL.

21 posted on 07/11/2003 10:06:55 AM PDT by finnman69
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To: Libertina
you mean 'ZZzzzzzzzziiip sexy Paula Zahn'

22 posted on 07/11/2003 10:37:02 AM PDT by Mr. K (mwk_14059 on yahoo Instant Messenger)
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To: finnman69
LOL!

I guess it depends on whether you want to keep time accurately or prefer to brag to all and sundry about how prestigious and expensive your watch is.

23 posted on 07/11/2003 10:41:25 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (. . . there is nothing new under the sun.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
...he cares more about reclaiming CNN's hard-news roots than in regaining ratings supremacy from archrival Fox News Channel. "I don't get caught up in that," newly installed CNN president Jim Walton said

Yeah, right. I'll bet this attitude lasts until Monday.

24 posted on 07/11/2003 11:19:57 AM PDT by RJL
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To: Dont Mention the War

25 posted on 07/11/2003 11:20:35 AM PDT by mhking
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To: Dont Mention the War
I was channel surfing yesterday morning when I stopped at CNN upon hearing "Jack" the old guy during the morning state (paraphrasing)"now all you who call us Clinton News Network I want you to know that all these letters I am getting about Bush lying are all against Bush. I'd read pro Bush letters but there are none". He came to the conclusion that this story will be bigger than Watergate.

Got me laughing because they just don't get it. No Bush supporters WATCH his lousy network so as to write him letters.
26 posted on 07/11/2003 11:28:52 AM PDT by Republican Red
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To: Dont Mention the War
What is a CNN?
27 posted on 07/11/2003 11:31:57 AM PDT by RepPhil
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To: Republican Red
I was channel surfing yesterday morning when I stopped at CNN upon hearing "Jack" the old guy during the morning state (paraphrasing)"now all you who call us Clinton News Network I want you to know that all these letters I am getting about Bush lying are all against Bush. I'd read pro Bush letters but there are none". He came to the conclusion that this story will be bigger than Watergate.

Send him one: Jack.Cafferty@turner.com.

One thing I always find very interesting about CNN: Whenever one of their anchors puts his/her own comments on the air, it never shows up on CNN's transcripts pag. Jack Cafferty's comments from yeserday that you mention above? Not there. Some sort of snotty commentary Anderson Cooper gave on Monday about Savage being fired from MSNBC? Not there.

I wonder why CNN is hiding this information.

28 posted on 07/11/2003 12:29:22 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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