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CBS still pondering CNN pairing (Deck chair re-arrangement/Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Variety ^ | June 1, 2007 | Michael Learmonth

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.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cbs; cnn; dbm; television

1 posted on 06/02/2007 3:23:07 AM PDT by abb
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To: abb

By the end of this decade, or shortly thereafter, television networks, as we know them today will cease to exist.


2 posted on 06/02/2007 3:23:51 AM PDT by abb (The Dinosaur Media: A One-Way Medium in a Two-Way World)
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To: 04-Bravo; aimhigh; andyandval; Arizona Carolyn; backhoe; Bahbah; bert; bilhosty; Caipirabob; ...

Ping


3 posted on 06/02/2007 3:27:29 AM PDT by abb (The Dinosaur Media: A One-Way Medium in a Two-Way World)
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To: abb

Bill Paley is spinning in his grave.


4 posted on 06/02/2007 3:36:58 AM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Would you vote for President a guy who married his cousin? Me, neither. Accept no RINOs. Fred in '08)
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To: abb
Propaganda is boring!!!
5 posted on 06/02/2007 3:38:33 AM PDT by Savage Beast (Of all that I have accomplished, the thing that I am proudest of is that I have a good heart. ~Oprah)
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To: abb

Unless JESUS himself becomes the lead newsreader for C.BS. I woun”t ever watch the Lying UnAmerican rag.


6 posted on 06/02/2007 3:38:38 AM PDT by Joe Boucher
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To: abb

Two Loser networks Unite, making them twice as stupid.


7 posted on 06/02/2007 3:40:42 AM PDT by AmericanMade1776
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To: abb
"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

He gets it.....which explains why he's a former network executive.

8 posted on 06/02/2007 3:42:41 AM PDT by Kakaze (Exterminate Islamofacism and apologize for nothing.....except not doing it sooner!)
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To: abb

A most excellent photoshop commentary. Thanks.


9 posted on 06/02/2007 3:42:48 AM PDT by XEHRpa
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To: abb
But now that network news, like newspapers, seems to be a slowly dying business

Seems to be?!?

LOL!

10 posted on 06/02/2007 3:51:20 AM PDT by andyandval
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To: abb
paying Katie Couric $15 million a year. But ratings for "Evening News" are at historic lows,

I see a huge opportunity for cost cutting.

11 posted on 06/02/2007 4:04:41 AM PDT by angkor
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To: angkor
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.

12 posted on 06/02/2007 4:07:35 AM PDT by abb (The Dinosaur Media: A One-Way Medium in a Two-Way World)
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To: abb

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!


13 posted on 06/02/2007 4:15:50 AM PDT by shove_it (old Old Guardsman)
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To: abb

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.


14 posted on 06/02/2007 4:17:23 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: andyandval
Network news is dying because the alphabet networks, ABCCBSNBCC(X)NNMSNBC became advocates for the hard left.

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.

15 posted on 06/02/2007 4:31:52 AM PDT by R.W.Ratikal
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To: abb

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.


16 posted on 06/02/2007 4:35:18 AM PDT by HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath (Christ's Kingdom on Earth is the answer. What is your question?)
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To: ClaireSolt
And just last night I was reading algore’s lament about how we watch too much TV.

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.

17 posted on 06/02/2007 4:39:18 AM PDT by angkor
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath

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!


18 posted on 06/02/2007 4:42:20 AM PDT by angkor
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To: angkor

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.


19 posted on 06/02/2007 4:48:57 AM PDT by Laverne
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To: angkor
How did CNN get him?

Good question. Square peg in a round hole.....

20 posted on 06/02/2007 5:17:17 AM PDT by Thermalseeker (Just the facts ma'am)
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To: abb

A couple of Dodo birds.


21 posted on 06/02/2007 6:40:22 AM PDT by new yorker 77 (Speaker Pelosi - Three cheers for Amnesty!)
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To: abb
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.

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.

22 posted on 06/02/2007 6:55:08 AM PDT by spald
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To: abb
CNN is enormously profitable for Time Warner

A curious detail. I wonder if this is true?

23 posted on 06/02/2007 6:57:14 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: abb; Jim Robinson
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."

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.

24 posted on 06/02/2007 7:00:25 AM PDT by spald
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To: Cicero
A curious detail. I wonder if this is true?

"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.

25 posted on 06/02/2007 7:02:58 AM PDT by abb (The Dinosaur Media: A One-Way Medium in a Two-Way World)
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To: Cicero; abb
The latest comments I could find were from a May 5 article in Morningstar Business News. An Excerpt:

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.

26 posted on 06/02/2007 7:09:07 AM PDT by spald
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To: spald

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.


27 posted on 06/02/2007 7:18:47 AM PDT by abb (The Dinosaur Media: A One-Way Medium in a Two-Way World)
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To: abb
I'd watch CBS
if they replaced Couric with
drunk Lindsay Lohan.

28 posted on 06/02/2007 7:22:47 AM PDT by theFIRMbss
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To: Savage Beast
Years ago, in cable years, that is, there were plenty of articles commenting about why CBS was not joining the 24/7 cable news bandwagon.

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.

29 posted on 06/02/2007 7:24:06 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: angkor
Instead of paying that boring socialist retard Couric 15 million a year they should pay 365 different hot moms $41,000 each to read the news for one night.

People would watch, maybe mix in a few crack whores as well.

30 posted on 06/02/2007 7:48:58 AM PDT by Rome2000 (Peace is not an option)
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To: abb

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.


31 posted on 06/02/2007 7:52:05 AM PDT by Suzy Quzy (Hillary '08...Her Phoniness is Genuine!!!)
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To: HisKingdomWillAbolishSinDeath

Glenn Beck is the ONLY thing worth watching on CNN....there’s NOTHING on CBS worth watching.


32 posted on 06/02/2007 7:53:31 AM PDT by Suzy Quzy (Hillary '08...Her Phoniness is Genuine!!!)
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To: spald; Cicero; abb
was somewhat offset by higher subscription and content revenues.

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 %
 
                   

33 posted on 06/02/2007 10:30:24 AM PDT by Milhous (There are only two ways of telling the complete truth: anonymously and posthumously. - Thomas Sowell)
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To: abb

Moonves is insane. The only way CBS is ever going to acquire CNN is by buying Time Warner itself.


34 posted on 06/02/2007 3:19:49 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War (My voting record: Rudy '89, Rudy '93, Rudy '97, Rudy '08. (Why not piss off BOTH sides?))
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To: abb

Am I in the wrong place?

Is this the Friday silliness thread?


35 posted on 06/03/2007 9:39:13 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . It's spit on a Democrat weekend)
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To: abb
If CNN is bought by CBS they should get Chelsea Clinton to read the news.

She is the original offspring of two POS's.

36 posted on 06/04/2007 12:33:56 PM PDT by N. Theknow (Kennedys - Can't drive, can't fly, can't ski, can't skipper a boat - But they know what's best.)
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