News

CNNs Johnson: No Sensationalism

5/03/1998 8:00 PM Eastern

Tom Johnson, chairman and CEO of CNN News Group, is a $1 billion man. This year, forthe first time, revenue from his stable of six cable channels will break $1 billion, andthe networks now reach 1 billion people around the globe. Facing fierce competition thatdidn't exist when he joined Cable News Network in 1990, and after launching four newservices in the past two years, Johnson has made CNN domestic his top priority now. Lastyear, he recruited broadcast-news veteran Rick Kaplan to reinvigorate CNN -- duties thatinclude creating appointment programming. CNN will soon debut CNNewsstand, a seriesof primetime newsmagazine shows, in conjunction with Time Inc. -- its corporate kin as aresult of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s merger with Time Warner Inc.     May 4, 1998

In an interview in Atlanta with Multichannel News programming editor Linda Moss,Johnson talked about the increasing pressure of ratings on news organizations, and hediscussed his competitors. Johnson also revealed that CNN's signature show, Moneylinewith Lou Dobbs, will be expanding to one hour, and that CNN is contemplating creating achannel for Spain. Finally, Johnson talked about the slower-than-expected growth of CNNfnand CNN/SI, each of which has distribution of 10 million.An edited transcriptfollows:

MCN: You are the king of a vast empire here. What are thehot spots, and what are the priorities in terms of the different networks?

Johnson: The news group has never been strongerjournalistically, operationally and financially. We are in the midst of a major expansion.It includes not only the technology that we are putting in place, but we are also creatinga new look for CNN. It will include new studios here in Atlanta, new sets and animprovement in our own camera, graphics, lighting and design. The audience will see manyof these changes this fall, but we just have a tremendous amount of momentum going today.

We are especially working to improve programming. Therewill be a considerable amount of original programming, including an epic The Cold Warseries that is being finalized for introduction this fall. We are undertaking anunprecedented series of shows -- one with Time magazine, one with Fortunemagazine, one with Entertainment Weekly and, hopefully, also one with People.

All of these projects are under the leadership of CNN's newdomestic president, Rick Kaplan, who has created just a tremendous new sense of dynamicswithin the CNN domestic channel.

The Gallup organization recently conducted a poll that webelieve is going to be released shortly. I have a copy of it that will show CNN as themost trusted news organization -- something that we have worked very hard to achieve.

The alliance with Time Warner has proven to work outexceptionally well. We are interested in other projects with the Time Inc. magazines andin specials with them. Say, if we are working on a Washington, D.C., show, we may verywell have the Washington bureau chief of Time, so the dynamics of the merger haveworked very well for us.

Our CNN en Español channel is growing rapidly in Centraland South America. We are exploring a channel for Spain itself, which would be a differentchannel. We continue to have outstanding growth in CNN International in English, and weare now reaching more than 210 nations and territories.

MCN: There are so many news outlets today. And [60Minutes producer] Don Hewitt warned, in a story in The New York Times, that theproliferation of news channels and shows, as far as he was concerned, was leading towardthe dilution of talent, ideas and production quality and, in his mind, a lowering ofstandards. What do you think?

Johnson: We plan to take our quality levels up. One ofthe reasons why Rick Kaplan was recruited to become president of the CNN domestic channelwas to bring to our leadership a person who had won 35 news Emmys and who had worked with Nightlineand with ABC. He's incredibly well-respected.

So while I believe that Don Hewitt's comments apply to manyorganizations in today's news world, it is the mandate of [chairman] Jerry Levin at TimeWarner and [vice chairman] Ted Turner that CNN not only maintain its commitment to qualitynews -- including international coverage, which has been weakened in many newsorganizations -- but also that we build new shows. What we are launching with CNNewsstandeach night at 10 p.m. is a dramatic improvement in quality for us.

For years, CNN was the unquestioned leader in providinglive, breaking news. We will continue to maintain that, but we were not able to provide asmuch original programming -- documentaries, instant specials, appointment-viewing shows,such as what we now have with Perspectives each Sunday night or Impact eachSunday night. We are going to do more of it.

Over time, quality will prevail, just as The New YorkTimes fought off the tabloids in the New York area for more than 100 years and emergedas the dominant newspaper in its market; just as the Los Angeles Times fought offtabloids in the Los Angeles market and emerged as the dominant, most successful paperthere.

CNN, by maintaining an absolute commitment to quality inall that we do, will be able to excel through these coming competitive years. We will notmove into tabloid programming or tabloid-type programming. We will not move intosensationalism. We will not move into exploitation. If anything, we have tried to be verycareful about the coverage of this Monica Lewinsky story and the president.

MCN: I was going to ask you about that. You weren't theonly ones, I think, but that was such touchy coverage -- the whole coverage about her andher semen-stained dress, or whatever. It turned out to be, I think, a figment ofsomebody's imagination. What about the pressures of that story?

Johnson: There was a media frenzy that accompanied therevelations concerning the relationship between the president and Monica Lewinsky. I amvery proud of the reporting that CNN did on the story. To my knowledge, CNN's originalreporting has not even been questioned.

Where I think we've all learned a lesson is in the pickupof other media stories, including the two newspaper stories that appeared that did make iton-air. Fortunately, we took to air the Dallas [Morning] News story,but we did not take to air The Wall Street Journal story. We put in place verytough controls, where two of our senior editorial executives must approve [stories] forair -- a "clear-for-air" authority -- before taking something like that on-air.

I think that is a great danger. The pressures that existtoday are intense. There is pressure to be first, and I continue to emphasize here that itis more important to be right than it is to be first. I would rather be second or thirdand be accurate than be first, but there is that pressure, and there is the continuedratings pressure.

The audience-rating system continues to be one of the mostdetrimental factors in the news environment. We should be measured more by quality and bythe way that we serve our public with quality than we are by Nielsen [Media Research]ratings, but we are.

Fortunately, CNN was up in primetime last year. And in thefirst quarter, we were up 22 percent, so we've had a very good first quarter. But I worryabout those factors, just as Don does.

MCN: Pragmatically speaking, to what level can you take CNNin terms of ratings?

Johnson: I do not know the answer. I believe that bycreating more appointment-viewing shows, under the leadership of Rick Kaplan -- shows suchas our Larry King Live at 9 p.m., our Impact show Sunday at 10 p.m., or theupcoming CNNewsstand -- there will be more reason for viewers to turn to us on aregular basis.

The new competition is not just news competition: It is allof the new channels. I don't really know what will happen, but I do know this: There areviewers who care about the news, and they will continue to turn to the quality channels.There are advertisers who want to reach those viewers, and they will continue to supportus. And, just as important, there are cable subscribers and direct-to-home subscribers andothers who will pay for quality programming. But CNN must continue to improve. It mustcontinue to innovate. It must continue to protect our brand and, if we do, we willcontinue to be successful.

MCN: A Madison Avenue executive said CNN used to say thatit is all about the news, and not about talent and programming, and it seems to haverealized that it may have been wrong. Were you wrong?

Johnson: No. CNN went about both its early years andits development in exactly the right way. It developed first its reputation fornews-gathering worldwide, and then it developed a reputation, I believe, for being muchmore competitive in the quality of the programming that we have.

News was the star, and news will continue to be the star atthis network. But we do find it necessary in this new competitive era -- up against BrianWilliams, who is being put on MSNBC, CNBC and NBC, and, of course, the use of the majortalent -- that we must be competitive. And for that reason, we are attracting more highlyvisible, but also highly respected, news personalities.

If you look at the people that we've hired, they haveexcellent news credentials. Jeff Greenfield is a good example, so we are not just movingto star power for star-power sake, but I can assure you that we are not going to give anyground. We are not going to cede any ground to our competitors when it has been shown thattheir news personalities do draw, and it is requiring some adjustment in our strategy tobring more talent to CNN.

MCN: Speaking of more talent, how disappointed were you innot being able to get Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather to come here? Does that speak to cable'sold inferiority complex versus the networks, or not?

Johnson: No. Of course, I was disappointed that Icouldn't convince Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather to join CNN. Frankly, both were excited by theprospect. Tom was and is very loyal to NBC, and it is really tough to leave an institutionafter as many years as he has been a part of it.

Dan was under contract. He had two years to go in hiscontract, and CBS would not permit him to leave. I think that many of the issues that hadconcerned Dan were addressed as a result of our efforts to get him. I think even thenetwork recognized Dan's desire to move CBS Evening News back to more of ahard-news broadcast, as they had back in the best days of CBS.

But I felt that we needed another excellent anchor at 8p.m., and I felt that Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather had the type of journalistic credentialsthat would fit very well here. They were not replacing the people that we had here.

As you know, we have enormous respect for Bernie Shaw andJudy Woodruff. We recently signed Bernie to a new, long-term contract. But we neededadditional resources, and I continue to look for ways to strengthen our 8 p.m. newscast,either using the best of our internal talent that exists here or finding talent outside.

One of the nicest things about Rick Kaplan's coming is thathe has attracted people from ABC and others who would love to join him.

MCN: Speaking of Kaplan, at the Television CriticsAssociation tour in January, you called his hiring your most important decision in yourseven-and-a-half years at CNN.

Johnson: Yes.

MCN: You said that so much of the future of CNN was ridingon him. Those are pretty strong, dramatic statements. What do you mean?

Johnson: I mean that between 1980 -- when CNN wascreated -- and 1990, it was a period of extraordinary accomplishment in the U.S. domesticmarket. This was when CNN established its brands, established its distribution in theUnited States and established the fact that it could do excellent day-in, day-out news.That was what I called the period of great domestic growth

And from 1990 until the time of this merger was a periodthat I describe as a period of globalization. The Gulf War came in 1990. It almostpropelled us around the world with recognition of our coverage. We added all of ourinternational bureaus, which, incidentally, will now be up to 30. We'll be up to 36bureaus around the world by the end of this year.

There are opportunities for us to take this wonderfulinfrastructure that we've built -- all of the bureaus, all of the staff -- and do a muchbetter job with our programming.

That is what Rick can do. Rick can mobilize the resourcesthat we have here and attract others so that we can be even more competitive going intothe 21st century with appointment viewing -- shows that people turn to daily. They don'tturn to CNN just in moments of crisis or big, breaking news.

He can help to lift our standards of production qualitydramatically. We were ready for the next generation. And all of these projects that we aregoing to be doing with Time Inc. require a gifted production executive, or a giftedproducer, and I honestly believe that he is the best in television news today.

MCN: In the sea of news channels out there -- Fox NewsChannel, MSNBC, CNBC -- what should CNN, under Kaplan or anyone else, stand for?

Johnson: We should stand for quality. I want us to bethe quality channel for news -- a channel that you can trust, a channel that is unbiased,a channel that will give all sides.

If it is a hot story concerning Iraq, that we give thestory not only from the White House, but from Baghdad. The audience will know that CNN isthere whenever and wherever news breaks and, if there is no major news happening, thatthey can turn to us for documentaries, for original reporting.

It doesn't reflect negatively on the past. If anything, itis like the first 17 years. CNN had put in place the ability to do unparallelednews-gathering. Nobody does it better. We have a brand that is so respected. It gives us achance to really be more creative, more innovative and, again, we are not only competingwith ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox, but with the BBC [British Broadcasting Corp.] andothers around the world, and I want us to be the very best at what we do. Again, qualitywill prevail in the marketplace.

MCN: Recently, you had an exclusive to televise the Clintontown-hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and that rankled a lot of your competitors.

Johnson: Big-time.

MCN: They brought up complaints about Kaplan's ties to thepresident. Was that just sour grapes on their part, or was it too cushy an arrangement?

Johnson: Anybody who doubts the editorial independenceof CNN should have watched that, because it was the administration meeting reality. OhioState [University], the site, was picked by the White House.

We handled the production, but, as you know, the chiefforeign policy advisors to the president -- Madeleine Albright, Secretary [William] Cohenand Sandy Berger -- encountered many strong questions about U.S. policy toward Iraq,really severe questioning concerning our prospective attack on Iraq, and I think that itwas one of the best nonstaged events that I have seen in recent memory.

Too much of what happens today at the White House and otherplaces is staged. We live in a world of spin, where people go in with a carefully chosenaudience and carefully chosen scenarios. To me, Ohio State was almost broadcast journalismat its finest. We didn't arrange it so that the administration would either get a positivespin out of there or a negative spin. We were trying to do it in a way where reality wascaptured, and it was.

It is true that Rick is a friend of President Clinton, andI have made it very clear that this will in no way affect the editorial independence ofCNN. And there has not been any example here, including Ohio State, where Rick has beenanything other than absolutely editorially independent.

During our careers, many of us get to know people in publiclife. I was even once a young aide in the Johnson White House many years ago, and I don'tbelieve that in my years in Dallas, or in Austin [Texas], or in Los Angeles, or here, Iever had any example where anybody questioned my integrity in the coverage of the Johnsonyears, whether it was about Vietnam or whatever. And again, what counts most in RickKaplan's relationship there is what goes on our air.

MCN: Should you guys have had an exclusive on it?

Johnson: Our competitors felt that it should be open toeverybody. I was pleased that it was a CNN exclusive. The decision on whether it shouldhave been an exclusive or not was made by the White House. They make decisions all of thetime about ABC doing various events and others. I think that I probably would have raisedhell, too, if I had not been given the opportunity, but CNN did it, and I think that evenour biggest critics say that it was a very honest, independent presentation.

MCN: You mentioned that you are not going to be doingtabloid journalism. To what extent are stories about Lewinsky and Princess Di blurring thelines between entertainment and news? Where do you draw the line?

Johnson: The Princess Di story was major news. TheLewinsky story is major news. The O.J. Simpson story was a major news story -- not just acelebrity story, but a major news story. Each of those involved is a celebrity, but we arealso sending people into corners of Africa to cover famine.Christiane Amanpourstays for three-and-a-half years in Bosnia.

This morning, we are trying to determine where PaulMcCartney's wife actually died and under what circumstances, because it is news. So theline is determined by seasoned, experienced news editors and journalists, who are askingthemselves, 'Do we have this story accurately?'

Do we sometimes get carried away? Yes, but do we try ourbest to behave responsibly? I can tell you that there is nothing that occupies more of ourtime here than that issue. Are we really being responsible? Because we know that we canblow our reputation here for quality in a single day, with a giant mistake or with somesensationalist approach.

MCN: What is the news environment now?

Johnson: This is one of the most exciting periods inthe news profession. You meet the competition of the 24-hour news channels, but also thelocal all-news channels and the Internet, the World Wide Web.

This is a time when there is going to be significantpressure that will bring out the very best, and perhaps the very worst, in all of us.There will be some who will see this as a time to really do news well, by the beststandards.

There will be others who will be in search of the largestaudience levels, and that could mean moving into more sensational and more tabloidtelevision, and into more emphasis on the celebrity form of journalism.

We really made a strategic decision here to stay on thehigh road. That has been a mandate from the beginning, and it has certainly beenreinforced by the merger with Time Warner. Good journalism is at the core of Time Inc.,and you can see it in the magazine.

So I expect that you are going to see competition foraudience, competition for advertising dollars and competition for distribution on thesecable and direct-to-home services, and the distributors have to make some tough choices.We are going to be the quality providers. This doesn't mean that it is going to be dull.We are going to be better.

MCN: To follow up on something that you said earlier, yousaid the pressure of the ratings is the reality of the news business.

Johnson: The single most destructive force intelevision news.

MCN: How do you cope with that?

Johnson: You just have to accept it as a reality.Fortunately, I work for Ted Turner, and Ted believes in doing the news. Some of ourlowest-audience-level shows are big international stories -- Bosnia, for example, and theslaughter in Rwanda. In the end, we will have a society that is either enriched bytelevision or harmed by television, and that is a hot topic today.

Shouldn't television play an important educational role insociety today? That shouldn't be left alone to public television and to NPR [NationalPublic Radio]. Discovery [Channel] has done a fine job, A&E [Network] does a fine joband many of the other networks really work at it, but I hope that there will always be agood audience for quality news programs and advertisers who will be attracted to it,because if they only reward -- particularly the advertisers -- the biggest numbers, theyare going to frequently find that they are supporting the worst programming, at times.

MCN: The CNBC-Dow Jones & Co. alliance has come tofruition. You'll start to see it on the screen soon. What does that mean for CNN?

Johnson: That means an even stronger competitor. Wewill continue to strengthen our business and financial coverage, which, I think, is thebest. With this past year, we took on this tremendous, highly promoted CNBC effort withMaria Bartiromo and beat that back. Lou Dobbs triumphed over that. I think that itstrengthens the channel, and we will continue to strengthen our channel.

We are investing heavily, and I should just tell you thatwe will be announcing shortly the expansion of Moneyline to an hour. It's ahalf-hour now.

MCN: Now soon will that be?

Johnson: We will be announcing it shortly.

MCN: Last summer, Lou Dobbs almost quit over the future ofCNNfn. He stayed on with the promise that at "some point in the future," CNNfnwill go 24 hours. That almost sounds as if the check is in the mail. What is thetimetable?

Johnson: Lou was disappointed in the lack ofdistribution at that time, and he felt very strongly that the number of hours of CNNfnshould be expanded. They were increased by an additional four hours. And we are studyingexpanding it beyond where it is today.

We also, as I said, are expanding Moneyline. Ourfinancial shows are not only among our most popular, but they are very, very strong withadvertising and others. We are actively looking at taking CNNfn to more hours a day. Weare trying to balance the audience demand, the audience interest and the cost of doingthis, and I think that we are very supportive of Lou's long-term objectives.

MCN: Is it in the imminent future, and could it not happen?

Johnson: We have not made a definite decision.

MCN: On the 24 hours?

Johnson: On the 24 hours yet, but Lou continues to bevery forceful in his advocacy of this point.

MCN: Is this strictly an issue of economics, or, as yousay, what's the prime obstacle?

Johnson: No. It is trying to balance the many, manyneeds that we have. We are trying to expand our interactive services rapidly in order tobe very competitive with all of the interactive services, and I think that if you look atthe new survey of PC Magazine, 60 percent of the people surveyed chose ours as thebest service that you could find of a half-dozen different ones.

One of the greatest success stories that we've had has beenin our CNN Interactive services. We now have a service, the CNN.com service, which is ourgeneral-news service. We have the CNNfn financial service, the CNN/SI service, the CNN enEspañol service and the CNN all-politics site, and those are showing enormous growth inpage views and, for us, in advertising. We expect to exceed $30 million in advertising forthese Web sites.

MCN: Are you saying that this is a high-growth area thatyou should focus on?

Johnson: There are several high-growth areas. If youthink about it, we rolled out CNNfn, CNN/SI, CNN en Español and CNN Interactive all inless than 24 months -- four distinct, new services in less than 24 months -- and we arenow expanding CNN domestic.

Our single biggest focus in 1998 and 1999 is CNN domestic.It is where our greatest competitor threat exists, and it is also where the greatestopportunity exists. I'm establishing priorities and, as I said, my first priority is thischannel.

That is where we are under the most competitive attack fromMSNBC, CNBC, Fox and others, so it would be good to say that you can do it all at onetime, but one of my most important responsibilities is to determine priorities.

I continue, though, to be a major champion of CNNfn.Advertising has just been splendid for the financial channel.

MCN: You've got to set priorities, but your top prioritywould be domestic?

Johnson: Yes, it is our No. 1 priority.

MCN: So in a sense, CNNfn going 24 hours is, at this time,kind of on the back burner?

Johnson: It is an important priority. It is not on theback burner. When I go from the most important priority, which is CNN U.S., to anotherpriority, they aren't that distant. It is not like one is on the absolute front and one ison the absolute back. Giving CNNfn everything that it needs is a very high priority forme.

MCN: But in terms of CNNfn, there is still no definitivetime when it is going to go 24 hours?

Johnson: No, there is no definitive time, and Lou wouldlike that. But I can take you down to [CNN/SI president] Jim Walton, and he will tell youwhat he needs for Sports Illustrated, or to Rolando Santos [president of CNN enEspañol].

To the extent possible, we are trying to continue tosupport the growth and development of all of the services that we have produced. Ifanything, by creating four new services over the last two years, I may have lessened theoverall commitment that was needed for CNN domestic, so along come CBS, NBC and Fox, andnow, I am really -- with Rick in the leadership -- making certain that the domesticchannel gets the attention that it needs.

MCN: The distribution of CNN/SI is 10 million or so: veryslow distribution growth?

Johnson: Right. [But] with nonlinear [tapeless] digitaltechnology, you can create a channel at much less cost today than in the past, when youwere in all of these tape services. We can create CNNfn, CNN/SI and CNN en Español atsignificantly less operational costs than was the case five years ago.

Clearly, the distribution has been slower than I would haveliked for CNNfn and for CNN/SI. I can't wait to convince even the other Time Warner Cableoperators to put those services on. The marketplace changed dramatically when News Corp.started paying large amounts of money for the distribution of Fox [News Channel], so wefaced an uphill battle on that.

We still feel that there is a good future for thesechannels and, as I said, CNNfn is ahead of schedule, and it will break even this year andturn to profitability. The nice thing is that both the sports channel and the financialchannel are generating good revenues on their interactive sites. And if you combine therevenues from the interactive sites, it is great.

We are looking to expand the financial channel, evenoutside of the United States, into Central and South America. Lou Dobbs has been in SouthAmerica this week, and we are looking to expand there.

MCN: As a news person, I would love to believe that qualitywins out, as you were saying.

Johnson: I sure hope so, because otherwise, I am goingto be a big failure.

MCN: But look at, for example, MSNBC this summer, withPrincess Di. They got the tag of a tabloid-news channel from some of their competitors,and they got phenomenal ratings with that coverage.

Johnson: They did blanket coverage. They were alsoestablishing themselves in terms of getting distribution and getting awareness. And I amnot going to criticize my competitors. We did blanket coverage for the war in the Gulf,and we certainly provided blanket coverage of O.J. Simpson, but each channel mustdetermine what it is going to be.

In the era of 24-hour news, there is a great temptation totake a big story and just ride it for all it is worth, particularly if nothing else ishappening at the time. The Diana story was huge.

Just as an example, when that bombing in Oklahoma City tookplace, we dropped O.J. Simpson coverage for several weeks just to stay with it. We almosthad a meltdown of our phones here from people who wanted to go back to the Simpsoncoverage. We didn't.

MCN: You were talking about FNC before, and Murdoch payingto get distribution. As for its content, what do you think about what FNC is doing?Surely, Murdoch bought his way onto cable systems, but now that all of that is said anddone ...

Johnson: Fox, like MSNBC, is doing it their way.Clearly, Fox is a recruiting talent, and I guess that's more in keeping with the way thatthey think they should present news.

They are making a great deal of this question of fairness,and they are describing us as a liberal news channel -- a description that I categoricallyreject. Here we are, we have Pat Buchanan, we've got Bob Novak,we have just anincredible rundown of people who are on our air who are strong conservatives. We try to befair.

[Then] MSNBC has these extraordinary new sets -- high-techsets, very high-profile anchors, high-quality anchors, the cross-promotion of NBC andMSNBC. I consider them both strong competitors, and I'm watching them carefully. I watchparticularly to see how well they do on the big breaking stories, compared with CNN, wherewe really meet head-to-head, and to measure the quality of what we are doing. I'm simplynot going to criticize them. They are going to do it their way. We are going to do it ourway.

We have -- I do, at least -- a lot of mutual respect. Iknow many of the people, and I know Andy Lack quite well, at NBC, and I know most all ofthe people at Fox. I think that one of the real things that has developed in televisionhas been this taking cracks at each other, which really is not helpful to us at all.

The competition is strengthening CNN. I believe that thecompetition is serving as a catalyst for us to do more and to even do it more quickly thanwe might otherwise have done. I think that the new channels that we've created, the newtalent that we've attracted, the new design and the sets and new programming --particularly the new programming that we are putting on the air -- have been in part ofthe result of this competitive era. I believe that we are going to be better for it, andnot poorer.

Now, there is still the question of how you divide up theaudience and, ultimately, the viewers determine where they stop with their clicker.

MCN: On the international channels, I have a few questions.A lot of U.S. programmers have hit major bumps in the international field -- The WeatherChannel and NBC are pulling out. You still have some growth there. You mentioned doing aSpanish channel.

Johnson: A channel for Spain.

MCN: What is the difference between you and them?

Johnson: We seized the moment in 1985, when we began toreally globalize, and particularly after the war in the Gulf. We established, I think, thestrongest distribution system with these now 17 different satellites on which wedistribute. We went in and established business relationships on the ground in thesecountries, in partnership with local broadcasters, and not in competition.

Ted created the World Report Conference to annually bringjournalists here from around the world. Things like that enabled us to stay in Iraq aftereverybody else was thrown out.

We have earned the respect, I think, of most of thegovernment leaders. They may not always like what they see. They know that we try to befair, so we haven't been thrown out, as the BBC was thrown out of China and Saudi Arabia.We really try to deal with everybody responsibly.

I really attribute a great deal of this to Ted. Ted is aninternationalist. He has traveled the world. He is respected around the world. He is knownto be a person who cares, and you can see his recent $1 billion gift to the UnitedNations, but he really cares, and this is not phony. He approaches the world verydifferently from Rupert Murdoch, and he thinks more about what we can give back in thesecountries.

Our project in Germany, our German-language channel, willbreak even in 1998 for the first time.

We are expanding our bureaus already this year. We haveopened in Havana and Beirut [Lebanon], and we are currently attempting to open a newbureau in Baghdad [Iraq], so it is a period of dynamic growth. Somewhere in the worldtoday, through our satellite system and our distribution systems, we are available toapproximately 1 billion people.

MCN: Would this channel for Spain be a different version ofCNN en Español, or a totally independent channel?

Johnson: It is going to be a channel that will becreated with Canal Plus, and it will be just like our German channel, which is producedand edited by Germans for Germany, with CNN serving in an advisory capacity and providingour content. This will be a service that will be produced, edited, anchored and written bySpaniards, for Spain, with CNN as an investor in the project and an advisor with ourcontent.

This is a project that has not yet been finalized, but youcan describe it as a project that is very much in evaluation and exploration. We areclosing in on our announcement of that.

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