Skip to comments.CBS still pondering CNN pairing (Deck chair re-arrangement/Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Posted on 06/02/2007 3:23:02 AM PDT by abb
Redstone, Moonves talk merger at meeting By MICHAEL LEARMONTHCBS chairman Sumner Redstone and CEO Leslie Moonves reignited the prospect of a merger between CBS News and CNN at CBS' annual meeting -- and this time they're talking about a full-blown acquisition of the cable news net. Serious talks on such a merger ended years ago.
But at the meeting, Redstone told shareholders, "CNN would be a lot better off if CBS owned it." Moonves reiterated that he'd be "very interested" if Time Warner were willing to sell.
Not a chance, says Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler. "CNN is not for sale," he says, "and is doing very well as part of Time Warner."
Sources at both CBS and Time Warner say no talks are under way and no formal approach has been made.
"It's a trial balloon to see if anyone bites on the idea; they're shaking the tree a bit," says media investor Harold Vogel.
The last time CBS made a full-court press for CNN was under then-CEO Mel Karmazin. The year was 2003, and CNN was still spinning after Fox News Channel blew by the network in the ratings.
At the time, the two sides were negotiating a joint venture that would cede much of the news gathering to CNN, while CBS News would become a producer of high-end news programs such as "60 Minutes."
A merger between the two would have its advantages: CBS News would benefit from CNN's massive international newsgathering apparatus; CNN would benefit from an infusion of star power and a network promotional platform.
A combined entity would allow both to better attract and develop talent, in the way NBC uses MSNBC as a farm team for its network shows.
While the cost savings were tantalizing, talks fell apart over which side would run the joint operation. Even then, CNN was so much bigger than CBS News in terms of personnel and revenue that the Eye had a hard time justifying that it should be a 50-50 partner.
CBS execs worried a deal would mean the end of CBS News.
Back then, Dan Rather was still in the anchor's chair; the "Evening News" was in third place; and CBS News was very much running on the remaining fumes of its Tiffany network era.
Now CBS has shaken up its news division with a new head in Sean McManus and is paying Katie Couric $15 million a year. But ratings for "Evening News" are at historic lows, which makes it more difficult to establish the next generation of correspondents coming into America's living rooms.
That partly explains why CBS reached out to CNN talent like Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Lou Dobbs for "60 Minutes," "Evening News" and "The Early Show," respectively.
CNN may be losing its battle with Fox News, but it increasingly appears that CBS is the one that needs the help, which may be why the rhetoric has shifted from merger to all-out acquisition.
A spokesman for Redstone said the controlling shareholder of CBS and Viacom made the comment half in jest; indeed, raising the idea of a CBS-CNN merger is something of a tradition when CBS speaks about its prospects to Wall Street.
It's an expensive proposition, but one that would allow CBS to amortize the cost of newsgathering as audiences for network newscasts dwindle.
Even though Redstone's last effort to nab CNN failed, the two networks have long shared core values and, increasingly, DNA.
In addition to the talent moving both ways, Jon Klein, a 17-year CBS veteran, runs CNN. Rick Kaplan, once head of CNN, produces the Eye's "Evening News With Katie Couric."
But now that network news, like newspapers, seems to be a slowly dying business, in many ways CNN can offer more opportunity (and money) for talent. CBS made no secret of its desire to land Cooper full time, but CNN was able to offer him a two-hour nightly show.
The last time CBS made a play for CNN, part of the rationale was that CBS could help CNN produce some compelling programming for primetime that would help it do battle with Fox News.
But the type of programming that works best on cable news nets -- opinionated talk -- isn't exactly in CBS News' sweet spot. "Let's say you had a program at 8 p.m. that was the best of what CNN and CBS produced all day," posits one former network exec. "If that program went up against Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann, I'm not sure it would do any better than Paula Zahn."
With "The Early Show" averaging 3 million viewers and "Evening News With Katie Couric" last week dipping below 6 million, it's more difficult than ever for the Eye to establish its own next generation of stars to replace Bob Schieffer, Leslie Stahl and company.
CBS shares hit a 52-week high the day Redstone reiterated his interest in acquiring CNN, but analysts say there are no Wall Street forces compelling a move.
CNN is enormously profitable for Time Warner, while CBS News is a small part of the network's financial picture compared to its primetime sales, while the company's share price has outperformed Viacom's since the split of the two companies in 2005.
"No analyst is going to downgrade CBS because Katie Couric's ratings suck," says Sanders Morris Harris entertainment analyst David Miller.
By the end of this decade, or shortly thereafter, television networks, as we know them today will cease to exist.
Bill Paley is spinning in his grave.
Unless JESUS himself becomes the lead newsreader for C.BS. I woun”t ever watch the Lying UnAmerican rag.
Two Loser networks Unite, making them twice as stupid.
He gets it.....which explains why he's a former network executive.
A most excellent photoshop commentary. Thanks.
Seems to be?!?
I see a huge opportunity for cost cutting.
Not to worry. Network "news" divisions are not long for this world. They generally lose money that has to be made up by the network entertainment divisions. And what with the decline in TV viewership overall, entertainment profits are harder to come by.
Just drop the C’s and N’s from the combined network and you have pure BS. What a target rich article. Thanks for starting my day with a BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
And just last night I was reading algore’s lament about how we watch too much TV. As usual, he has it all figured out.
The same reason the two major political parties are dying.
What will happen? America will survive. America is a strong nation with a central core of (red states) people who want to preserve a self-governing republic based on free-enterprise capitalism and guaranteed personal freedoms and liberty.
It’s the only system that has worked in the people’s interest in the whole history of mankind.
CNN has gotten much better than it used to be with Kiran Chetry and Robin Meade adding the sugar, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs adding the spice, and Anderson Cooper and Larry King everything nice.
That's why he owns an Internet and cable TV station ("we want [www.current.tv] to be the television home page for the Internet generation.")
It's the same reason he heads Generation Investment, which sell "carbon offsets" to people who are frightened by his books, fictomentaries, and speeches.
Glen Beck has the best news magazine show on television. How did CNN get him? He’s the antithesis of their normal leftie fare. And he’s a Mormon to boot!
If CNN had a brain, they would move Beck from HLN to CNN regular and put him in Paula Zahn’s spot. But alas, CNN...brain....don’t go together.
Good question. Square peg in a round hole.....
A couple of Dodo birds.
My late brother (may he rest in peace) was a stockbroker and he would assume that since this happened at the CBS meeting, the discussion would be called the old
Pump and Dump.
A curious detail. I wonder if this is true?
These guys just can't face the truth or tell the truth.
Truth is, if O'Reilly, Olbermann and Zahn went head to head, for every 100 viewers O'Reilly got, Olbermann would get 5 or so and Zahn would get 2 or so. So really, there's only one program on at the time spot and two stations with filler.
Now if Jim Robinson had a half-hour of FReeping and then a half our of just blank screen, he'd outscore O'Reilly 100:1 because all the FReepers would be using the second half-hour on line posting at FR.
"Enormous" has a very elastic meaning. Compared to some of the other losers owned by TWX, (Time magazine, etc) I'm sure it makes money. I'll see what I can dig up.
Time Warner also saw flat revenue results at its cable networks and publishing operations.
At the cable networks, including TBS Superstation, TNT, CNN and HBO, revenue was $2.4 billion, as a 12% drop in advertising revenues was somewhat offset by higher subscription and content revenues.
I don’t think they break out the revenues/earnings by business unit, at least publicly. CNN’s lumped in with TBS, TNT, TCM, etc.
| I'd watch CBS
if they replaced Couric with
drunk Lindsay Lohan.
Can't remember a thing from those articles, though.
Maybe they were hoping for an early shake-out.
My guess is that between Cap'n Dan's salary and perks, and his lack luster ad $$$ garnering ratings, they didn't want to detract from their bonuses to fund the startup of a new division.
People would watch, maybe mix in a few crack whores as well.
No other way to get rid of Katie than to sell the whole company!! Katie is like a little herpes.....very hard to get rid of.
Glenn Beck is the ONLY thing worth watching on CNN....there’s NOTHING on CBS worth watching.
TWX's latest 10-Q does a fair job of illustrating timewarnersaurus' growing dependence on sticking it to cable subscribers to make up for ever dwindling advertising revenue.
Networks. Revenues, Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization and Operating Income of the Networks segment for the three months ended March 31, 2007 and 2006 are as follows (millions):
Three Months Ended 3/31/07 3/31/06 % Change (recast) Revenues: Subscription $ 1,545 $ 1,462 6 % Advertising 655 743 (12 %) Content 200 194 3 % Other 10 11 (9 %) Total revenues 2,410 2,410 Costs of revenues(a) (1,067 ) (1,076 ) (1 %) Selling, general and administrative(a) (406 ) (452 ) (10 %) Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization 937 882 6 % Depreciation (74 ) (67 ) 10 % Amortization (3 ) (3 ) Operating Income $ 860 $ 812 6 %
Moonves is insane. The only way CBS is ever going to acquire CNN is by buying Time Warner itself.
Am I in the wrong place?
Is this the Friday silliness thread?
She is the original offspring of two POS's.