Cable Operators

CNNfn’s Loss, Others’ Gain

12/12/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

When CNNfn goes dark Dec. 15, Time Warner Cable will largely replace it with CNN International and Boomerang. But the major satellite providers that account for most of its subscribers said they hadn’t decided yet what to do with the vacant slot.

Time Warner Cable and CNNfn are both part of Time Warner Inc., so it’s no surprise the MSO in some cases is filling the business-news channel’s open space with sister services from Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

Time Warner Cable accounts for 5.6 million of CNNfn’s 30 million subscribers.

“In some cases there’ll be replacement programming, CNN International or Boomerang,” Time Warner Cable spokesman Keith Cocozza said. “And in some cases, they have yet to determine what’s going to go up there.”

HGTV LIFT IN NYC

In some markets, the MSO might slot in a different channel. For example, in New York City, CNNfn currently shares an analog channel, 64, with Home & Garden Television, and runs full-time on digital channel 133.

When CNNfn shuts down, CNN International gets the digital opening, while HGTV takes over analog channel 64 full-time, according to Harriet Novet, vice president of public affairs for Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey.

In October, CNN News Group announced it was pulling the plug on CNNfn. Distribution growth hadn’t come at the speed officials had expected, it said.

Most CNNfn carriage is with DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network, which wouldn’t say what would come next.

“We’re looking at a number of options,” DirecTV spokesman Bob Marsocci said. “We have not yet made a decision as to what we might put up on that channel position.”

Said EchoStar spokesman Steve Caulk: “We don’t have anything to announce right now. We always evaluate whatever bandwidth we have available for any additional services we might add. It’s just bandwidth we have to work with.”

Turner was fairly closemouthed about what will happen to CNNfn’s slots. “We continue talking to our affiliates,” a Turner spokeswoman said.

In terms of CNNfn’s programming, sources said that Ken and Daria Dolan-hosted The Dolans Unscripted and Open House, hosted by Gerri Willis, will begin airing on weekends on CNN next month.

SOME HEAD TO VOD

Some of the service’s other content will be migrated to new platforms, such as video on demand, subscription VOD and broadband, according to officials.

Some 110 people worked at low-rated CNNfn. Because some of the networks’ shows are continuing, only 60 jobs are actually being eliminated. CNN expects most of those workers to find slots within the company.

CNNfn never managed to get traction against the business-news leader, CNBC.

CNN’s changes next year will include adding long-form programming to Headline News, to create appointment viewing. Some of those new Headline News programs will be unveiled at the Television Critics Association tour in January.

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