Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Private Networks unit plans
to launch a Cable News Network offshoot next year, targeting malls, college campuses,
doctors' offices and other retail environments where people wait in lines for
Turner hopes to launch the network -- with the working
title, "CNN On The Go" -- "early next year," TPN senior vice president
Deborah Cooper said.
She added that the company is also in discussions with
companies that own "other modes of transportation" outside of its CNN Airport
Network. Reaching 11 million travelers at 32 airports monthly, CNN Airport remains the
flagship of the TPN group.
CNN On The Go could help TPN to grab a bigger cut of the
place-based media market. So far, its strategy has been to sell programming to private
networks, such as Mills Corp.'s MillsTV mall network, Willis Stein &
Partners' College Television Network Inc. and AccentHealth Inc.'s AccentTV,
which is shown on monitors in physicians' waiting rooms.
TPN's business model for CNN Airport was to pay for
the cost of installing monitors in airports and to share advertising revenues with airport
operators. For CNN On The Go, TPN plans to offer "about as many business models as
there are businesses," Cooper said.
One of the biggest challenges for CNN On The Go is to find
a distribution technology to deliver the programming to monitors TPN would install in
retail environments, Cooper said. Using cable is not an option, she added.
Cooper said she has a meeting scheduled next month with a
technology team to work on the issue, warning that "it could all fizzle" without
an effective distribution system.
Some place-based media executives, including some companies
that buy programming from TPN, said they welcomed the competition.
"We would view them as competition, but at the same
time, the more people that get into place-based media, the more credible the venue
becomes," MillsTV vice president of sponsorship Tony Wells said.
MillsTV's programming contract with TPN expires at the
end of the year, Wells said. The company is looking for replacement programming from other
national content providers and broadcast stations in markets near its malls -- located in
Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Dallas;
Houston; Chicago, Phoenix; and Los Angeles -- he added.
But Cooper said she would look to extend MillsTV's
programming contract, insisting that CNN On The Go won't compete directly with its
existing partners. "What we will look to do is go out and build new businesses,
rather than changing the existing ones," she added.
Prime Spot Media -- which distributes MallTV to monitors
located in mall food courts -- isn't concerned about competition from CNN On The Go,
chairman Stephen Davis said.
The company expected to close a $15 million round of
financing last week, which would allow it to expand MallTV from 29 malls to 200, Davis
said, adding, "I don't see where there's going to be room for CNN."