Cable News Network

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CNN (Cable News Network) is a cable television network, based in Atlanta, Georgia and viewed worldwide, that pioneered 24-hour news coverage. Today 1 billion people in 212 countries can watch CNN.[1] It has 15 networks (including CNN, CNN Headline News and CNNfn) and 12 websites. Their founding president was Reese Schonfeld.

Media monopoly

CNN was launched by Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System on June 1, 1980. In its first years, the network incurred substantial losses, in part due to competition with Satellite News Channel, a joint project of ABC and CBS, in 1982-83. In 1983, Turner bought SNC and shut it down, replacing it with what became CNN Headline News, a channel with a similar format.

In 1987, when Turner was seeking an infusion of cash, he sold substantial stakes in the network to the largest cable operators at the time, Time Warner and TCI. This gave these businesses a financial interest in CNN's success, and they accordingly blocked the formation of competing 24-hour news channels for many years.

"To protect their financial interest in CNN," former NBC News president Lawrence Grossman wrote in his book The Electronic Republic, "the major cable operators--that control programming to tens of millions of cable subscribers--refused to let NBC compete with CNN by offering another cable news channel. They were determined to keep CNN as a 24-hour cable news monopoly." According to Grossman, CBS also "ran into a stone wall" when it tried to launch a news channel in 1993.[2]

Even Rupert Murdoch's attempts to launch a competing news service were frustrated for years. "There are at least four companies, perhaps five, that would like to start a 24-hour news channel," Murdoch said in a 1994 interview. "But so long as they can't be sure of distribution, they're never going to get the chief executives or the chairmen of those companies to take the risk and make that investment."[3]

Only in 1996, when Time Warner bought the entirety of Turner Broadcasting, did the Federal Trade Commission require Time Warner's cable systems to carry competing news channels, thus opening the door to Murdoch's fledgling Fox News Channel.


CNN gained public prominance during the first Gulf War, when CNN was the only Western news outlet Saddam Hussein authorized to remain in Iraq, allowing the network to report exclusive news and images.

According to polls in 1995, viewers found CNN "the most fair among all TV outlets" , and "trusted CNN more than any television news organization."[4]

In addition to national and world news, CNN also features business news, Show Biz Today for entertainment and the Larry King talk show. In her paper "The CNN Role in the Global Market of News Broadcasting", I. Barbetta describes CNN's method of reporting information.[5] The International Desk in Atlanta gathers all news, videos and possible interviews and distributes them to specific networks and individual programs.


CNN trails Fox News in terms of the average number of viewers watching at any given time. As of 2004, however, CNN's total viewership was still higher than Fox's, with a larger number of viewers tuning in but watching less intensively. CNN's revenues continue to be higher than Fox's, as its larger, less devoted audience is more attractive to advertisers.[6]

External links