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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Weekend Musings

Regis Philbin guest hosted Piers Morgan Tonight on Tuesday (5/29/12) and, in our opinion, did a wonderful job. He devoted the entire hour to interviewing David Letterman, who rarely makes these types of appearances. Letterman suggested twice that Regis would be a good fit with CNN. He also comically forgot Anderson Cooper's name. Here's the clip:

The big CNN talk this week were firings and hirings. But we also noticed some of our commenters reacting to an article on Broadcast &

Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent admitted to being "very unhappy" with CNN's primetime ratings, but said it won't resort to tricks to increase viewership.CNN ratings hit a 20-year low in May and speaking at the Nomura U.S. Media & Telecom Summit Thursday, Kent said the company had plans to improve the quality of its broadcasts and increase viewership.

Kent said the ratings problems had two causes, some he called environmental and the others "self-inflicted."

Over the years, CNN has benefited from breaking news and in the first five months of this year, there have been few big stories, especially compared to last year's rush of unrest in the Middle East, tsunamis, reactor meltdowns and earthquakes.

Even the election has been "pretty boring to people," said Kent, who expects interest in politics to heat up.

"This is not an excuse. It's just a fact," said Kent, calling those factors about half the problem.

The self-inflected problems stems from the fact that "we haven't put the best shows on the air," he said.

Kent said CNN's current primetime lineup still has "very high potential." He called Anderson Cooper a television news star who "at this moment is not getting a star's ratings and that's because of lead-ins."

But Kent also offered support for Erin Burnett and Piers Morgan, whose shows lead in to Coopers'.

He calls Burnett "a great get for us," but said "that show should be doing better. I think that show can do better. I think it's just a question of a terrific talent with the right staff around her playing as much to her strengths as possible."

Kent also said the company believes strongly in Morgan, who replaced CNN mainstay Larry King. "I think he's a tremendous interviewer," he said, adding that "it seems to be that when he is interviewing people that are in the news in a meaningful way, the show works better than a typical celebrity interview. I don't really know what to make of that yet."

Of the rest of CNN's lineup, "we have some other shows that probably need to be replaced. This is an execution issue and to me, this is TV 101."

Kent said the challenge of raising CNN's ratings is unique because "there are lots of ways to get ratings and every local news director has some tricks up their sleeve to get ratings. We choose not to do that."

He said that, contrary to some published reports, his boss, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has not been hammering him about CNN's ratings.

"The pressure on all of us, on me, on the CNN management from me is to raise the quality and the consistency of the quality," he said. "I am a firm believer that if we raise the quality of these shows and make them a little surprising -- sometimes also it's also a little repetitive throughout the day -- if we raise the quality and we do it with consistency the ratings will be just fine. I can't tell you that we'll beat this one or that one. But they'll be a hell of a lot better than they are right now and we'll be fine."

Kent said CNN ratings have not been a factor in recent carriage negotiations with distributors.

He said he's expecting TNT's ratings to rebound in the second half of the year, as TBS' already have, and that the company will be recording significant increases in carriage fees as its deals with cable operators expire between 2014 and 2016.

Turner's fees have been undervalued since it gave up the NFL. Now after increasing spending on original programming and sports deals for key events like the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament, it has more must-have programming, Kent said.

But Turner prefers not to negotiate in public or take out ads telling consumers that they might lose some of their favorite channels.

"That's led to a misperception we're too passive," Kent said. But he said Turner has already gotten "significant growth" in sub fees on the back of the NCAAs and other programming investments.

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Anonymous said...

David Letterman has "forgotten" AC's name before and calling him "pretty boy eyehopper" or something of that nature, was indeed no compliment this time either.
It is apparent that he does not particularly care for anderson cooper.
Last fall David did not allow Anderson to promote his day time talk show and as he plied him with questions concerning only the news.

Anonymous said...

There was nothing at all comical about David's reference to Anderson as "pretty boy."
That is exactly what he has become to serious minded, in the know people of power, like David Letterman.
Anderson in some circles is no longer the preeminent journalist he once was because of his talkfest and his narcistic ego.
Every interview is about himself.
He is so self absorbed, landing on talkshows like Watch What Happens Live, that he really has become a joke.
David's remark should be taken seriously.
And Regis said absolutely nothing in his defense....interesting.

Anonymous said...

Just set the DVR for Evening Express. This could
be a good thing if HLN gets i t right. There are
signs that viewers are tiring of all politics all of
the time.. They have already been posting on FBM
& Twitter. Just hope it is 2 hours of good content,
interesting topics, interviews and features. Just
make things interesting and unpredictable and
not the same thing over and over again for
120 minutes. The big mystery is why HLN.

Anonymous said...

@12.18pm it's gonna be a copy/pasted version of Morning Express with different anchors, expect a lot of pop culture and crime news, animal of the day videos and similar stuff. Politics or serious news never dominated any program on HLN over the past few years, this one won't be the exception.

Anonymous said...

@2:43pm, I fear you are right - that the new HLN show will be an evening version of fluff. But, I'm gonna check it out just in case I am surprised. Its not like serious news is dominating CNN either.

Personally, I have been disappointed with the direction that Anderson has gone lately. CNN has become the home of the most preening, narcisstic personalities ever. I guess they are following Anderson's lead. What happened?

Anonymous said...

Reserving judgement on Evening Express until the
premiere episode airs. Other news would be out
there since Morning Express. It seems more along
the lines of GMA. It sounds like it is aimed at the
younger viewers. An evening news show for the
hipsters might not be a bad thing. We could end
up being surprised.

Anonymous said...

From what I am hearing so far about Evening
Express I dig the concept. A conversational news
show like you would be having with your friends
sounds great. Just saw Ryan Smith on talking about
the show. This could really be a cool news show.
For once it sounds like something different. I am
kinda excited. They are even on Pinterest. Sounds
like they are really trying to connect with viewers.
If you are not on social media you can e-mail.
Ryan,Isha & Clark are all very likable and have
great personalities. It will be interesting to see
the presentation, delivery and chemistry. What
happens if they outperform CNN for 2 hours ?

Anonymous said...

What's going on. Kyra Phillips is anchoring
on HLN for the 3 PM hour. It never made sense
to have an outdated ME on for 6 hrs and Mike
Galanos on for 3 hrs. Maybe HLN is trying to do
less crime until 7 PM. HLN needs to get back to
what Ted Turner originally intended, a quick stop
news source for news, international news, weather,
sports, etc. It is so perfect for modern times. Every
30 minutes you could find out what was going on.
Unfortunately in cable news the only regular folks
are largely criminals. There are dozens of folks
who are doing good and extraordinary things
but you would never see it watching cable news.
ABC NEWS is best at finding those stories. That
likely has more to do with cable news losing
viewers. You don't see ordinary people and
300 million Americans are not invisible. Cable
news is to mean, hateful and negative.CNN &
HLN needs more balance with content.

Anonymous said...

Wow Evening Express was really good. Loved the
positive uplifting stories. I had not heard about the
kid trying to shed light on Syria, the stay at home
mom who was denied credit , Push Girls or the
homeless teen headed to Harvard. The paces was
remarkable, love the timeline. For once CNN/HLN
got it right when it comes to trying to be different.
I hope it does pass Nancy Grace as HLN's top show.
Ryan Smith, Isha Sesay and Clark Howard did good.
Congrats to them and all involved in the show. So
stunned that CNN/HLN could do a show like this.
I am going to say what many are asking. Do you
really expect this show to stay on HLN ? Some are
saying it will eventually make it to CNN as a new
morning show or replace Out Front & John King
later this year. You have to admit this is too good
for HLN.

I do have a criticism. What's up with so many
commercials and where's the music ?

Anonymous said...

Are we being punk'd? Sanjay Gupta is interviewing Michelle Pfeiffer about her career. Why? Why is CNN's medical expert doing a celebrity interview? This is just as random as the day when I saw weatherman Rob Marciano fill in as an anchor on CNN Newsroom.

Anonymous said...

Evening Express is aimed at 17-21,18-25,
18-29,18-34 and 18-49 year olds. It will
be interesting to see the ratings later today.

Will it hurt MSNBC,CNN or neither ? Will it
get higher ratings for HLN ? If HLN has a
hit, what happens to the show ? It should
be repeated overnight. It will be interesting
to see if offering an alternative to CNN, FNC
& MSNBC for 2 hours will pay off. You can't
tell anything from 1 night but 3 months from
now could tell us something. The show is on
HLN so it does not have to get big ratings.

Anonymous said...

HLN is putting Ryan Smith up against Rev Al.
You have to admit Ryan Smith is better looking.
That's likely the plan. See if you can pull some
viewers away from MSNbC. It is clearly aimed at
younger viewers and women but why would you
have a hip news show build up a crime primetime
lineup. Evening Express should be on CNN. It is
better than Out Front already. The chemistry with
Ryan, Idha & Clark works too.

Anonymous said...


You really think Evening Express is competing with Al Sharpton? You really think anyone would turn away from Sharpton because he's not as good looking as Ryan Smith? You really think a 2-hour long pop culture and bizarre crime chit-chat should have a place on "the most trusted name in news", "the world's news leader", i.e. on CNN? Seriously?