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Running head: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES AMONG ALL-NEWS CABLE NETWORKS: CNN, MSNBC, AND FOXNEWS CHANNEL






SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES AMONG ALL-NEWS CABLE NETWORKS: CNN, MSNBC, AND FOXNEWS CHANNEL
Deborah A. Neals
Barry University



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Successful programming is vital to a television property since it spells the difference between profit and loss. Unpopular programming results in fewer viewers, an insufficient number of advertisers buying airtime, and eventually economic failure.
CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC are three all-news channels fighting for an ever-decreasing slice of the ratings pie. The networks have both similarities and differences, but before discussing them it is vital to look at both their history and programming.
When Ted Turner created the Cable News Network in June of 1980, he probably never dreamed that it would become one of the most recognized names in cable programming (Eastman and Ferguson, 1997). CNN's first broadcast was June 1, 1980. Initially the signal was seen in 1.7 million U.S. households. Turner established news bureaus in major American cities and in other cities throughout the world and today CNN is seen in 80 million U.S. cable households (Available: CNN.com).
Much of CNN's success is rooted in its early application of newsgathering technology, most notably that of communications satellites and portable uplinks such as those that gave the world video and audio during the Persian Gulf War and the aborted coup in the former Soviet Union (Eastman and Ferguson, 1997).
MSNBC, which got its start on July 15, 1996, was a groundbreaking venture from Microsoft and NBC, comprising MSNBC cable and MSNBC on the internet. The network premiered to 22 million households, reaches 45 million to date, and is expected to reach 61 million households by the end of the year 2000 (B.P. Anderer, personal conversation, December 7, 1998). The network was able to reach so many households so

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quickly because it took the distribution platform of the NBC owned, America's Talking (Eastman and Ferguson, 1997).
The FoxNews Channel was the last of the three to enter the all-news cable battle, on October 7, 1996. Its first months of programming were only available to 10 million households despite the fact that owner, Rupert Murdoch paid cable operators $10 per subscriber to carry the all-news channel (Conner 1996). This is because Time Warner Cable refused to put the network on its New York City cable system. (CNN owner Ted Turner is the chairman of Time Warner.) Murdoch filed a lawsuit, but on July 23, 1997 the suit was settled, giving the FNC immediate access to the MSO's 1.1 million New York City subscriber system, plus wider distribution over time to the majority of Time Warner's customers (Higgins and Petrozzello, 1997). The network now reaches nearly 35 million households. Its programming is balanced, aimed at views slightly older than the early-20's audience courted by MSNBC (Conner, 1996).
CNN Monday-Friday
6a.m. Business Day. Hosted by Deborah Marchini and John Defterios, the show offers viewers live reports on market movements and business developments. Business and finance coverage is rounded out with weather updates, sports news, a travel advisory and the latest headlines.
7a.m. Early edition. Hosted by Leon Harris and Carol Lin. A complete presentation of the latest news developments, including sports, weather and business news updates. In addition to news, the show airs a live newsmaker interview each hour.

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9a.m. CNN Morning News. Hosted by Daryn Kagen and Bill Hemmer. This complete news show offers blocks of news reports, reviews, interviews and viewer call-ins. Many of the interviews are ?how to? in nature and cover a variety of subjects.
11:30a.m. CNN and Company. Hosted by Mary Tillotson. A half-hour news-talk program that looks at today's issues from a woman's point of view. Each day the show consists of three panelists that hold different beliefs.
12 p.m. Newsday. Hosted by Frank Sesno and Jeanne Meserve. Based in Washington D.C., this half-hour show is a presentation of the latest news of the day with plenty of live coverage.
12:30p.m. Burden of Proof. Hosted by Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossak. This show, which was born during the O.J. Simpson trial, now investigates all facets of the judicial system. Key trial figures debate the legal ramifications of top news stories and courtroom issues.
1p.m. CNN Today. Hosted by Natalie Allen and Lou Waters. A contemporary news