The NYTimes’ Tim Arango writes about the latest chapter in the CBS/CNN talks. It’s an arrangement that would reduce “CBS’s news-gathering capacity while keeping its frontline personalities, like Katie Couric, and paying a fee to CNN to buy the cable network’s news feeds.” Insiders told Arango another option would call for “CBS to keep its correspondents in certain regions but pair them with CNN crews.”
CBS News & Sports president Sean McManus and CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton are reported to be leading the talks. CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said, “We are extremely pleased with and proud of our news-gathering operation. No outside arrangements are being negotiated.”
CNN anchors already appear on CBS programs. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a medical contributor to the Evening News. Anderson Cooper, and before him Christiane Amanpour, reports for 60 Minutes. And CBS Corp. and Time Warner, through Warner Bros., are already in business together. Each is an equal partner in the CW Network.
The idea of a CBS/CNN pairing reignited briefly last summer at the highest levels. Variety wrote about comments made by Sumner Redstone at CBS’s annual meeting. The Viacom chairman telling shareholders, “CNN would be a lot better off if CBS owned it.” Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler dismissed the idea at the time, saying, “CNN is not for sale and is doing very well as part of Time Warner.”
And times have changed for CBS. The company reported a 14.6% decline in fourth-quarter earnings and the stock is down 18% this year. If sharing resources cuts costs for CBS and creates another revenue stream for CNN, the plan could well come together.