Lack Questions CNN/ABC News Merger


NBC president and chief operating officer Andrew Lack said Wednesday that he doubts a merger between Cable News Network and ABC News can generate large cost savings that seem
to be driving executive interest in the deal.

"I don't think the cost savings they are talking about are there, in my
own observation, unless they are wasting a ton of money in these two
organizations," Lack said in a speech in Washington, D.C., to the Media Institute, an
industry-funded First Amendment advocate.

For several months, ABC News parent The Walt Disney Co. has been discussing
merger prospects with CNN owner AOL Time Warner Inc.

Combining the news brands would reportedly save $100 million per year in
operating expenses.

Lack questioned the need for the merger even if financial efficiencies would be realized.

"You hate to see deals like this come together based on bucks alone," he added.

"I'd like to hear the rationale for it. I don't quite trust that this is
about Barbara Walters being able to extend her interviews with whomever on the
international networks. That doesn't resonate with me personally."

Lack took the helm in June 2001, overseeing the NBC broadcast network and
cable channels CNBC and MSNBC.

Lack said he's hopeful that struggling MSNBC can return as a strong rival to
CNN and Fox News Channel.

"They'll pull themselves out of it. I am not concerned," he said. "It goes in
cycles and you have bad patches. It's MSNBC turn in the barrel, and they're
having a bad patch, but they have great people working there."