CNNfn BITES THE DUST

Cable Business News Service Closes; 60 Jobs Involved

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Nine years after it was launched to compete with NBC's CNBC business channel, CNN's CNNfn is being closed. The move may involve the elimination of as many as 60 positions, the company said.

The CNNfn cable business news service was first suggested in 1995 by then-CNN boss Ted Turner as a response to NBC's increasingly popular CNBC. Originally designed as a different kind of financial and business news service, CNNfn was headed by Lou Dobbs when it launched at the end of 1995.

New concept
At the time, Mr. Dobbs predicted the new service, which would emphasize looser, more informal business reporting aimed at a younger and broader audience, would take four years to break even.

However, speaking on a conference call with reporters yesterday afternoon, CNN's president, Jim Walton, said that "digital growth hasn't come at a rate we anticipated." He said the channel had been profitable since 2003. Some CNNfn shows, including Open House and Dolans Unscripted, will continue on either of the company's two remaining networks, CNN and Headline News, Mr. Walton said.

Cost cutting denied
Mr. Walton denied the move was the result of cost cutting and said the company was planning to focus its resources on other projects, such as growing its video-on-demand capabilities.

In an internal memo, Mr. Walton provided few specifics but told staff: "You will hear more about our transition plans for CNNfn in the coming weeks."

He also told the conference call that while 60 positions at CNNfn may be affected, 100 new positions are currently being posted internally for job seekers.

Ken Jautz to stay
CNNfn head Ken Jautz, who is also the executive vice president of CNN News Group's business operations, will remain with the company and will continue to oversee business news.

CNNfn's advertisers are negotiating the fate of their unused ad buys and may convert those over to other CNN properties. Industry observers, however, point out that there are few available advertising placement openings across cable news networks on the whole because of the heavy demand for advertising during the hotly contested election campaigns. CNNfn advertisers are also being offered ad space on CNNMoney.com as an alternative.

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