At long last, Lou Dobbs is getting his wish: CNNfn will
become a 24-hour network by the beginning of the fourth quarter.
"We continue to build our product, and we're
ahead of our business plan," Dobbs, CNNfn's president, said last week.
"It's the appropriate time to expand as we build."
CNNfn, a financial-news spinoff of Cable News Network, is
currently on 18 hours per day, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
The financial network's delayed timetable for making
the transition to an all-day service has been a bone of contention for Dobbs. In 1997, he
threatened to quit if he didn't get a firm commitment from parent Time Warner Inc.
about CNNfn going 24 hours per day.
At that time, Time Warner Inc. vice chairman Ted Turner and
CNN News Group chairman Tom Johnson quickly moved to smooth Dobbs' ruffled feathers.
He stayed, and he was promoted to president of CNNfn. That fall, the network's hours
were also expanded to 18 per day from 14.
Last June, Dobbs' nightly newscast was expanded to one
hour and dubbed Moneyline News Hour with Lou Dobbs. And he reportedly won a new
contract last year that pays him more than $1 million annually.
CNNfn has been on a hiring binge of late, apparently in
preparation for its expansion to a full-time network. The financial network just hired
Howard Polskin, a former public-relations executive at CNN and ex-TV Guide writer,
for the new post of vice president of program development. CNNfn has also hired two news
anchors who are familiar fixtures in the New York TV market -- Jack Cafferty and Tony
Although Cafferty and Guida weren't financial
journalists per se, Dobbs said both had "distinguished themselves in the New York
market" and had covered business news during their careers.
Polskin's role will be to help expand CNNfn's
programming and to improve on it, according to Dobbs.
CNNfn, which launched in December 1995, currently reaches
roughly 11 million homes. It faces a financial-news juggernaut in competing against
well-established CNBC, which has seen its ratings soar, and which enjoys mass distribution
in 68 million homes.