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CBS outsourcing reporting to CNN? Either they think Katie Couric is a core competency or they’re running-out the clock on network news 4/8/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in CBS, CNN.
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Today’s basic formula for running a successful business is do what you do best, and outsource the rest. So, if it’s true that CBS is in talks with CNN to outsource reporting, they must think they can’t compete in news gathering, but can with its news stars, like Katie Couric, right? That seems like a stretch given Katie Couric’s poor ratings vs. the other network anchors, and her lack of a passionate following compared to cable personalities like Bill O’Reilly, Jon Stewart, Anderson Cooper, and Keith Olbermann.

In fact, the only reasonable explanation for CBS’ interest in letting CNN handle their reporting is that they are running-out the clock until the end of network news. They plan to milk the remaining profits until all news moves to cable and the Internet, while getting the most possible value out of Couric’s expensive and unfortunate contract. As I have mentioned, CBS was never particularly interested in making money from network news anyway, but simply considered it a cost of doing business. It was a way to demonstrate good corporate citizenship by airing government-friendly programming, ensuring renewal of their profitable, government-issued broadcast licenses. But in the new, relatively unregulated world of new media, no government licenses are needed. Personalities like Katie Couric and Vanna White will compete head-to-head for CBS’ valuable air time, and whoever draws the biggest audience wins. The wheel of fortune is now slowing on network news, and ultimately it will land on “bankrupt.” (H/T: Bob McCarty)

Is CBS Evening News being relaunched as news for liberals? 9/26/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in CBS, Couric, PartisanPress.

In the last few decades, network TV news programs have insisted they were providing news that was “objective,” and went to great pains to avoid revealing their anchors’ personal political views. But last night, CBS News anchor Katie Couric stood before the National Press Club and starkly proclaimed that President Bush lied about the reasons the U.S. went to war with Iraq — not made a mistake or a questionable judgment, but lied — placing herself publicly, firmly, and fringe-ishly on the left, well outside the American mainstream.

If a network anchor had made such a statement in the past, it might have been considered a mistake or an embarrassment. But in the current news environment, it cannot be ruled out that this was a deliberate strategy on the part of CBS management. Their news program is performing miserably under Couric’s stewardship, clearly unable to compete against the other two networks. CBS must be noticing that in the more competitive news market of cable TV, the public prefers news with a partisan spin, as Fox’s audience skews toward conservative viewers and CNN skews toward liberal ones. Perhaps CBS also recognizes that the objective news model is still relatively young and unproven (only the last 80 years of human history), is almost entirely an American phenomenon, and is now failing among an increasingly skeptical public.

In the future of news, the Internet will provide us with multitudes of news outlets representing multitudes of worldviews from far left to far right. Is it possible that Couric’s remarks were not a gaffe, but a bold and deliberate CBS move out of a hole and into the future? It’s either that, or no one at CBS even cares about Couric or news anymore.

CBS’ wandering eye suggests rocky future for TV Network-Local Affiliate marriages: First monogamy, then polygamy, then divorce 5/31/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Affiliates, CBS.
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Relationships between the big three TV networks and their local affiliates have been showing signs of strain recently. For many years, both desperately needed each other. The networks could not reach local viewers and their associated advertising value without broadcasts from the affiliates. The affiliates could not offer quality programming or national/international news without the networks. But with more of us now shunning primetime viewing on the affiliates’ programming schedules in favor of on-demand programming via cable, Internet and TiVo, the networks now seem interested in becoming “swingers.” In a hint of betrayal, CBS’ Les Moonves said yesterday “we feel the wave of the future is getting as much distribution as we can…we should be nonexclusive and get our content out there.” All of which means that each local affiliate will ultimately become just another member of its networks’ programming distribution harem, and an increasingly unattractive member at that. And later, when TV converges onto the Internet, there might not be any reason for networks to keep these marriages together at all.

Cable TV news soars with variety of personalities and styles, while Couric crushed by CBS’ inability to get past Cronkite model 4/24/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Anchor, Cable TV, CBS, Couric, Cronkite, News.
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It has now been 44 years since Walter Cronkite created the original role of the “male authoritative anchor” for network TV news, and CBS has been a one-trick pony ever since. They can’t even stretch the anchor role far enough to cover a woman like Katie Couric, who bears the positive image of a sensible, friendly, level-headed, strong, and trustworthy female. Meanwhile, cable TV succeeds with a spectrum of strong news personalities from the combative to the funny — Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, Chris Matthews, Shepard Smith, Nancy Grace, Lou Dobbs, Greta Van Susteren, Larry King, and even comedian Jon Stewart. In fact, cable TV even succeeds with newscasters who have no discernable personality or style at all, but are simply drop-dead gorgeous. The truth is that the networks have been caught flat-footed. They have never seriously tried to compete with each other, much less with alternative news outlets, and they don’t know how. Katie will be tossed overboard soon, but it is too late. The networks have lost their moorings, they will eventually need to drop their anchors, and network TV news will sink.