The Daily Beast’s Daniel Gross writes about the finances of TV news, and notes that despite the onslaught of negative publicity in recent months, both CNN and NBC’s “Today” remain cash cows for their respective companies.
Only in the media business can two enterprises that, combined, funnel somewhere near $1 billion in profits to their corporate parents, be regarded as sinking ships, failures, and debacles.
Except that, with no credit owed Time Warner, Fox managed to redefine the television news business in a way that made CNN necessary. CNN was needed however, not for its talent and originality, but in a sense for the opposite. Cable systems that carried the fiery Fox News, had, in the interest of peace and well-being, to carry CNN (and pay CNN’s considerable premium for carrying it) – or, carrying the neutral and respectable CNN allowed it to carry its antithesis. CNN’s lack of self-definition, its fundamental inertia and static brand, increasingly worked for it.
It succeeded by not doing anything – even, by not succeeding.