FIRST ON TKNN: Speaking at an event tonight at the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, CBS News President David Rhodes was asked if he would like to see CBS buy CNN should it become available and he said he would.
Rhodes explained his rationale by saying of the five main television news organizations (NBC/MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and Fox News), “We’re the smallest of those.” The questioner also touched on CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’s comment that CNN is “something that could enhance CBS” and Rhodes explained that Moonves was making a judgement based off how CNN and CBS could work together well for values and scale.
“Culturally, if you think about those five there are similar values, probably more similar than most, between us and CNN and so that’s sort-of, there’s a logic there.”
He continued, “But also it would be an answer to a scale issue over time which is that, you know, it’s hard to muster the kind of coverage we’ve been talking about tonight and it would be easier if we were a larger organization.”
“So yes- I mean we would obviously explore anything like that if it was available. At the present time, they’re pretty clear that it’s not available but anytime an opportunity comes up like that, you know, you’d be foolish not to look at the possibilities.”
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has challenged AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner (which owns CNN) and the court proceedings are currently ongoing. Reports have indicated that the Justice Department wanted AT&T to spin off CNN (either alone or as part of the larger Turner Broadcasting System) or Directv in order to let the merger continue unchallenged. Once that news broke, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement, “I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so.”