CBS May Turn to CNN for News
DANIEL SCHORR: The New York Times is reporting that CBS News has been in discussion with Time Warner, the owner of CNN.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
NPR's senior new analyst, Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: The reported talks are about a possible deal to outsource some of CBS's news operations to CNN. CBS denies any outside negotiations are going on. Full disclosure: I've worked for both CBS, for 23 years, and for CNN, for six.
In those years, CNN founder Ted Turner would tell me of his ambition to acquire a television network. He was never able to raise enough money to attempt a hostile takeover.
Now, advances in technology, like the Internet and satellite transmission, have siphoned off some of the television news audience, even while operating costs are increasing.
Ten years ago, after 120 CBS employees had been laid off, a rumor floated around CBS that President Mel Karmazin wanted his network to get out of the news business altogether because he could not compete with the 24-hour news channels.
Typically, retrenchment tends to be at the expense of news operations rather than the stars of the anchor desk. CBS News was in third place among the three major networks when it offered Katie Couric $15 million a year hoping to improve its position.
The CBS Evening News is still in third place. Evening news audiences across all three networks declined 5 percent last year, but the CBS share declined by more than 13 percent. The day is long gone since CBS Chairman William Paley would tell Edward R. Murrow to do his job and let Paley worry about the revenues.
The Times says that a CBS-CNN deal would mark a watershed in broadcast history, a strategic shift in the face of changing market forces. But it also would mark a shift away from the expectation that the media will operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity. CBS is not confirming any deal with CNN. But the story rings true.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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