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WILL CBS NEWS AND CNN MERGE AT LAST?

May 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

CBS News and CNN are once again talking about combining their operations, published reports said on Tuesday. The reports suggested that the talks, which have been ongoing for years, were likely to come to fruition at last because of financial pressures on each organization. CNN’s ratings — and, by extension, its advertising revenue — have been falling and the cable news network could benefit from CBS News’s “star power” and news-gathering clout in the U.S., while CBS could expand its overseas coverage and avoid the kind of draconian cutbacks that ABC was forced to impose on its news division last month, the reports said. Asked about the reports during a conference call today (Wednesday), Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said that CNN could be a good strategic partner for any broadcast network but, he added, “We don’t have anything definitive to tell you right now.” New York magazine, which first reported on the new talks, suggested that CBS had its eye on Anderson Cooper, who already contributes to its 60 Minutes. The magazine seemed to imply that the network would like to replace Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News with Cooper when Couric’s $15-million-a-year contract comes up for renewal next year. “One scenario is that if Couric vacates the evening news,” the magazine said, “she could serve as a replacement for Larry King while continuing to file reports for 60 Minutes.” Several TV critics have long observed that Couric is far stronger as an interviewer than she is as a news reader, while Cooper’s principal asset is his charismatic good looks. Nevertheless, in reporting on the renewed talks, the New York Times observed Tuesday that “the issue that has derailed previous efforts for both CBS and ABC to unite with CNN would still have to be resolved: Which company would have editorial control over the news programming?”