The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Some waves were made a couple of weeks back about CNN and ABC planning to merge their news departments and then spin off that merged entity as a separate company (owned about equally between the two of them, naturally, with a minority partner being brought in at about a 15% stake to avoid regulatory concerns). That turn of events could still happen. This piece gives an overview of the benefits of such a move, and what it means for rival media companies, particularly CBS News.

Although much of the analysis here is intriguing, I think there's an element of shouting fire when there's not even smoke. The scenario presented here is that CBS News would be left high and dry with no cable outlet possibilities. This isn't really true: CBS' parent company, Viacom, owns a huge chunk of the cable spectrum, including MTV, Nickleodeon, CMT, etc. If Viacom wanted to get their news operations into the cable mix, they could easily launch or buy a channel, and leverage it onto most cable systems by holding their established channels as bargaining chips (a common tactic when trying to get a new cable channel off the ground).