CNN's weekday schedule will be overhauled in September to include three daytime financial programs simulcast on CNNfn, the financial cable channel. Additionally, "NewsStand" has abandoned its newsmagazine format, and the name will be used on a 10 p.m. nightly newscast.
News of the three simulcasts calls into question how distinct a presence CNNfn will be and comes on the heels of CNNfn head Lou Dobbs's exit from Turner. CNN/U.S. President Rick Kaplan, however, denied that Dobbs's departure led to these changes.
"Lou and I didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things, but it was inevitable that we were going to be doing this," Kaplan told reporters during a Q&A on Saturday--part of the summer TV press tour going on here.
"It would have happened whether Lou was here or not," he insisted.
The first joint telecast, an as-yet-unnamed 5-7 a.m. program, will be co-hosted by Deborah Marchini and John Defterios and will preview the day's domestic market and report on international markets.
"Moneytalks," which will feature reporting on Wall Street and trading, will air from 11 a.m.-noon, co-anchored by Terry Keenan, Bill Tucker and Daryn Kagan. (Kagan's 11 a.m. half-hour of general news has been tabled.
"Street Sweep," from 4-4:30 p.m., will wrap up the market and be anchored live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange by Jan Hopkins.
Fatalities of the change include "CNN & Company," which Kaplan says was yanked because "we do not want to do what some of the other channels that are in this business do, and just have a series of talk shows butted back-to-back next to each other."
Prime time also is in for big changes. At 8 p.m., Wolf Blitzer will be the lead anchor on a new flagship news program, "The World Today." Joie Chen in Atlanta and Jim Moret in Los Angeles also will have anchor duties; chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, senior analyst Jeff Greenfield and legal analyst Greta Van Susteren will be featured regularly. "Moneyline News Hour" anchors Willow Bay and Stuart Varney will do a daily business wrap-up for the program.
At 10 p.m., "NewsStand," Kaplan's baby, is getting a new identity. Now airing Monday through Friday and anchored by Bay, Stephen Frazier and Judd Rose, the newscast will begin with a recap of the day's news and a business news segment, and then segue into one or more newsmagazine pieces, co-produced with Time-Warner magazines.
This is a real departure from "NewsStand's" original mandate, as described by Kaplan: to establish a magazine identity at 10 p.m.
"I'm hoping that I'm a little smarter today than I was a year or two ago when I first came [to CNN]," Kaplan said Saturday when asked about the 180-degree change. "There is a great deal of difference between audiences in cable and audiences in broadcast," the former broadcast news exec added.
The "CNN&Time" newsmagazine, airing Sundays at 9 p.m., will continue, co-anchored by Greenfield and Bernard Shaw.
That's how Mary Matalin, the newest co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," referred to her co-hosts Robert Novak and Bill Press.
Matalin is replacing Pat Buchanan, who once again has left the program in order to run for president of the United States. Press, the show's liberal voice, said that conservative Matalin had all the right qualities essential to replace Buchanan. They are: smart, sassy--a word I'll just bet was never used to describe Buchanan--and "dead wrong on all the issues."
Matalin returned the compliment by describing Press as a member of the "loony left" and calling male colleagues "stud muffins."
Now a member of the press, Matalin said Saturday she doesn't think there is a liberal bias in the news media, though "we like to say that there is."
Kaplan dodged a question as to whether this is the last time Buchanan will get to use the program for four years to build up his name recognition and then run for president. "We're moving on, and those are issues we'll deal with down the road--besides, we love Mary," Kaplan said.
And, speaking of dodging questions, when asked if her new "Crossfire" deal made her exclusive to CNN parent Turner, Matalin said she didn't know. "I didn't really read my contract," she said.
CNN's press tour session occurred as information about John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crash dribbled out slowly. By 2 p.m. Saturday, Kaplan already was hearing suggestions that CNN was overcovering the search.
"I don't have to explain why it's wall-to-wall coverage on our network," Kaplan responded. "It's not like we've stopped watching every other kind of story that's going on, and if something else of importance came up, we're obviously going to tell you about it. But this is of extraordinary importance, especially to Americans."
One reporter asked Kaplan if he would estimate how much money JFK's crash coverage is worth to CNN. Kaplan declined to comment.