CNN moving newscasts beyond Atlanta base
With construction of a streetside studio in New York and plans for a high-profile newscast anchored by Willow Bay in Los Angeles, Atlanta-based CNN is becoming increasingly bicoastal.
Former "Moneyline" co-host Willow Bay will anchor a show based in Los Angeles.
When CNN's new studio looking out onto the street from midtown Manhattan's Time-Life building is ready next year, Brown will anchor from there.
Also next year, CNN plans to join NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox News Channel in telecasting a morning news show from a streetside Manhattan studio.
Another new New York-based show, "Greenfield at Large," is earmarked for the new studio space, too.
Bay, the former "Moneyline" co-host who lost her job last spring when CNN brought back Lou Dobbs, will anchor a show that airs midday in the East, morning in the West, said Sid Bedingfield, CNN's general manager. She is expected to have a co-host, although none has been named.
The new coastal presence is dictated mainly by where people like Brown and Bay live, Bedingfield. Bay's husband is Robert Iger, a top Walt Disney Corp. executive.
Currently, CNN has three regular weekday programs originating from New York, one from Los Angeles. Last August, there were 10 from the two cities, but cutbacks last winter in business programming and the long-running "Showbiz Today" knocked the numbers back.
Since then, Jamie Kellner, an executive with a strong Los Angeles background, was hired to run the Turner Broadcasting System, which includes CNN. Kellner brought in New York fixture Walter Isaacson, the former Time magazine editor, as CNN chairman.
Both executives now have second homes in Atlanta.
"I think it's good for CNN to have a dual center of gravity in Atlanta and New York, with places like Washington, and Los Angeles and London thrown in," Isaacson said. "But it's good to have our newsgathering people coordinated in Atlanta because it gets us out of the somewhat insular Manhattan media mentality."
Since taking over last month, Isaacson has sought to address head-on the grumbles by some Republicans that the network has a liberal bias. He's traveled to Capitol Hill to meet political leaders, and CNN is discussing a potential weekend show with conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.
CNN is facing a competitive challenge with the growing ratings strength of Fox News Channel, which appeals to many conservative viewers.
The flirtation with Limbaugh drew the ire of the National Organization for Women, which called on CNN to stay away from him. CNN shouldn't have to "sink to the level of Fox News Channel to win viewers," NOW President Kim Gandy said.
"CNN's image will forever be tarnished by giving someone like Limbaugh an even bigger microphone," Gandy said.