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United States cable news

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Title: United States cable news  
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United States cable news

Cable news refers to television channels devoted to television news broadcasts, with the name deriving from the proliferation of such networks during the 1980s with the advent of cable television. In the United States, early networks included CNN in 1980, Financial News Network in 1981 and CNN2 (now HLN) in 1982. CNBC was created in 1989, taking control of FNN in 1991. By 1997, the cable news industry grew to incorporate several other networks, including MSNBC, FNC, and specialty channels including Bloomberg Television, ESPNews and Fox Business Network. Recent additions to the cable news business are CBSN, Newsmax TV, TheBlaze, Al Jazeera America and One America News Network.

As the highest rated and most widely available cable news channels, CNN, MSNBC, and FNC are sometimes referred to as the "Big Three". While the networks are usually referred to as 24-hour news networks, reruns of news programs and analysis or opinion programming are played throughout the night, with the exception of breaking news.

Regional 24-hour cable news television channels that are primarily concerned with local programming and cover some statewide interest are News 14 Carolina (which operates out of North Carolina), NY1 (which operates from New York City) and Northwest Cable News (NWCN) (which operates from Seattle). New England Cable News covers the six state region of New England, while the primary core of Time Warner Cable News covers the numerous regions of Upstate New York.


  • "Big Three" news channels 1
    • CNN 1.1
      • CNN spinoffs 1.1.1
    • Fox News Channel 1.2
    • MSNBC 1.3
    • Ratings 1.4
  • Other cable news channels 2
    • General news 2.1
      • Al Jazeera America 2.1.1
      • NewsMax TV 2.1.2
      • One America News Network 2.1.3
      • TheBlaze 2.1.4
      • CBSN 2.1.5
    • Financial news 2.2
      • Ratings 2.2.1
    • Sports news 2.3
    • Weather news 2.4
  • Prime time line-ups 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

"Big Three" news channels


Cable News Network (CNN) launched on October 1, 1980, as the first cable channel devoted to news programming. The Persian Gulf War in 1991 catapulted CNN into the spotlight, largely because the channel was the only news outlet with the ability to communicate from inside Iraq during the initial hours of the American bombing campaign, with live reports from the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad by reporters Bernard Shaw, John Holliman and Peter Arnett. Throughout the 1990s, CNN (which was at the time the only major cable news channel) became very influential, an influence later coined as the CNN effect.

During the 1990s, CNN was criticized by former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and among other conservatives of liberal bias and have referred to CNN as the "Clinton News Network."[1] To this day, CNN is still considered by some to have a liberal bias.[2][3] and catering to a more liberal audience,[4] However, MSNBC has in recent years shifted to become the strongest liberal outlet of the big three.

CNN was the first cable news network to begin broadcasting in high definition in September 2007.[5] Today, CNN's television personalities include Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper.

CNN spinoffs

In 1982, the Turner Broadcasting System (which would merge with Time Warner in 1996) created a spin-off of CNN called CNN2, which was originally formatted to show the top news stories of the day on a 30-minute "wheel" schedule. The channel rebranded as CNN Headline News in 1983, before the network abandoned the CNN branding and changed its name to the orphaned initialism HLN in 2008, following a shift from news programming towards a mix of news during the day and discussion programs and documentary series at night that began two years earlier.

Time Warner created CNN International in 1985, with a straight focus on international news stories compared to CNN, which featured an equal emphasis and U.S. and world news. CNN launched a special service on January 20, 1992 called CNN Airport Network which is available exclusively in United States airports; the service simulcasts programs from CNN and HLN, but with inserts of information of interest to air travelers. CNN also operates a Spanish language service, CNN en Español.

Turner Broadcasting also established two, now defunct networks. CNNfn, launched at the end of 1995, attempted to challenge CNBC. It ceased operations after nine years on the air in December 2004. CNNSI, a parnership between CNN and Sports Illustrated, attempted to counter the rising success of ESPNews in covering sports news. While the network was shut down, CNN and Sports Illustrated continue to maintain their partnership, with Sports Illustrated operating a sports section on CNN's website.

Fox News Channel

Fox News Channel (FNC) was founded in 1996 under the ownership of News Corporation (founded by Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch), the third largest media company in the United States behind Time Warner and The Walt Disney Company. The network is headed by chief executive officer Roger Ailes. The network begin broadcasting its programming in high definition in May 2008.[6]

Since the network's launch, FNC has gradually grown to become the highest-rated cable network. FNC's prime time lineup includes programs such as The O'Reilly Factor, hosted by Bill O'Reilly, which has been a top rated program since the early 2000s when considered among major cable news channels. While the channel's longtime slogan are "Fair and Balanced" and "We Report. You Decide", the network has long been criticized by liberals for maintaining a conservative bias.


MSNBC debuted in 1996, as a partnership between NBC News and Microsoft (Microsoft's stake in the channel was gradually bought out by NBC until the latter's parent NBCUniversal bought out the remaining minority stake held by Microsoft in 2011). When the network was launched, its leading hosts included Jodi Applegate, John Gibson, Tim Russert and Brian Williams. For over a decade, the network's ratings were consistently in last place among the cable news channels.

After Phil Griffin became president of MSNBC in mid-2008, the channel began shifting towards an increasingly politically liberal ideology in its analysis programming, particularly in its prime-time lineup.[7][8][9] MSNBC launched a high definition simulcast feed on June 29, 2009.[10]

Notable personalities on the network include Keith Olbermann's show, Countdown. This, combined with accusations of support for current U.S. President Barack Obama, have led to MSNBC being criticized for a 'liberal bias' by conservatives, a reputation it has increasingly embraced with its "Lean Forward" slogan (which it adopted in 2011) and open promotion of progressive and liberal ideas.


Until the start of 2002, CNN was the number one cable news network in the ratings.[11] FNC has been number one among cable news audiences since that point.[12]

Since March 2009, MSNBC held second place in primetime viewership. For the first time in 2012, MSNBC finished second in total day ratings for the year, beating the previously top rated CNN. MSNBC president Phil Griffin attributed the success to the network's more 'progressive' commentary, with former anchor Keith Olbermann and current host Rachel Maddow taking advantage of on-air changes at CNN. MSNBC has also noted the consistent ratings growth enjoyed, especially while FNC and CNN have seen declining viewerships.[13][14] Since 2013, CNN has occasionally fallen below its sister network, HLN, in part due to struggles with its primetime schedule, and thus sometimes finishes in fourth place. However, breaking news coverage has led to CNN occasionally triumphing over both MSNBC and HLN.

Other cable news channels

General news

Al Jazeera America

Based on Al Jazeera English, the Al Jazeera Media Network created Al Jazeera America in August 2013, launching it over the channel space formerly occupied by Current TV. The channel provides both domestic and international news and features with talent such as Tony Harris, John Seigenthaler, Richelle Carey, Joie Chen, Antonio Mora, Ali Velshi and Lisa Fletcher along with hosts from Al Jazeera English. While not as widely distributed as CNN, MSNBC and FNC, the channel is currently available in about 55 million homes. The channel is fully managed and operated in the United States and its president is Kate O'Brian, who formerly served as vice president of ABC News.

The channel produces its programs in high definition, but broadcasts (at least temporarily) in standard definition on most carriers due to the fact that the channel that Al Jazeera America replaced, Current TV had transmitted only in standard definition; the HD feed is currently only carried by Google Fiber, Verizon FIOS, Time Warner Cable, AT&T U-Verse and Bright House Networks.

NewsMax TV

NewsMax TV debuted June 15, 2014 as a television arm of NewsMax, a Republican-leaning media company better known for its magazine and Web site. As of 2014, it is distributed on both Dish Network and DirecTV through a time-buy arrangement. The network does not yet air any programming in prime time and will rely heavily on infomercials.[15]

One America News Network

One America News Network (OAN) was launched in the summer of 2013 under the cooperation of The Washington Times. The channel's content consists of rolling news coverage and political talk shows from a conservative viewpoint. Currently it is the least widely distributed of the cable news outlets and is primarily distributed online although it has been picked up by Verizon FiOS, CenturyLink Prism, Consolidated Communications, and AT&T U-verse.


TheBlaze TV is the television arm of TheBlaze, a multimedia network founded and operated by radio host Glenn Beck. Beck, who previously hosted a daily hourlong television show on Headline News and FNC, formed TheBlaze TV (originally known as GBTV) on September 12, 2011, shortly after leaving FNC. TheBlaze is available via Dish Network, various smaller cable providers, and through subscription Internet television.


CBSN is the new carrier of CBS News. It broadcasts completely free, 24/7 non-stop online, and is available on their website or various streaming setup boxes such as the Apple TV.

Financial news

CNBC (originally an abbreviation for the Consumer News and Business Channel) was launched by NBC in 1989, and merged with competitor Financial News Network that same year. It gained a competitor in the financial news genre in Bloomberg Television, which was created in 1994 by Bloomberg L.P., led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In October 2007, News Corporation launched its own financial news network called Fox Business Network (FBN); News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch stated his reason for launching the channel was that CNBC is too "negative towards business" and had promised to make FBN more "business friendly".

The Big Three:[16]
CNBC Bloomberg TV FBN
Headquarters Englewood Cliffs, N.J. New York City New York City
Number of Households in 2012 97 million 57 million 68 million
Profits in 2008 $350 million $15.6 million not reported*
Management Mark Hoffman (President) Michael Clancy (Executive Editor) Roger Ailes (CEO)
  • FBN is operated as a division of the Fox Entertainment Group – which had $1.85 billion in net income in 2004. No information reported for the profits or losses which the FBN division represents.


FBN's ratings are generally too low to be registered beyond Nielsen's margin of error;[17] its highest viewership was estimated to be 202,000 viewers, during the 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time hour of Imus in the Morning's debut broadcast on the network in 2009.[18] Bloomberg also does not subscribe to Nielsen and its ratings are assumed to be very low (however, its viewership was higher than CNBC's when Bloomberg's programming was simulcast on E! in the early morning hours, an arrangement that began in 2004 after USA Network ended its simulcast of the channel after ten years, and was discontinued altogether under E! in 2007).[19] Currently, CNBC usually has between 200,000-400,000 viewers during the day.[20] In 2000, CNBC had higher ratings then CNN during market hours.[21] The viewership of business newscasts may be underestimated in part because much of its viewership comes from communal areas, most of which cannot be accurately measured by Nielsen and are thus not counted.

Sports news

ESPN launched a 24-hour sports news channel named ESPNews on November 1, 1996, which is carried by most cable and satellite providers, although usually only on dedicated sports and information tiers. It airs news, highlights, press conferences and commentary by analysts all in relation to sports. ESPNews was also syndicated to regional sports networks as daytime filler programming and also often appears as blackout filler on ESPN or ESPN2 when those channels air a program unavailable in a certain geographic area.

ESPNews scaled back its news-only format in 2013, after several years of ESPN expanding its flagship newscast, SportsCenter, throughout the daytime hours on the main channel. ESPNews newscasts are now branded under the SportsCenter brand, while replays of ESPN2 talk programs typically air when SportsCenter airs on ESPN's main channel.

At least one of the ESPN networks is usually carrying a SportsCenter broadcast at any given time, with the lone exceptions being particularly busy sports days in which all three networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS) are carrying sporting events.

Weather news

The Weather Channel is the market leader in news regarding weather forecasting and the most widely distributed cable network in the United States. It was launched in August 1982, under the ownership of Landmark Communications (which sold the network to a joint venture of NBCUniversal, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital in 2008). Originally, the channel was devoted entirely to weather forecasts and news coverage (with computer-generated local forecasts inserted through each individual cable provider every ten minutes, and previously at randomized time intervals, ten times an hour), but since 2001, the network has increasingly cut back its weather coverage in favor of reality television and documentary series (this reliance on such programs has led to carriage disputes between Dish Network and DirecTV in the early 2010s, the latter resulting in the channel's first provider defection, citing subscriber complaints regarding The Weather Channel's shift away from forecast programs). Most of the channel's morning and at least part of its afternoon lineup remains devoted to weather news coverage and national forecasts. As of 2013, it is operated under the same corporate structure as MSNBC.

Since the 2000s, there have been several other attempts to launch weather-centric television channels. The Local AccuWeather Channel is distributed mainly as a digital subchannel on various terrestrial television outlets. WeatherNation TV, originally known as The Weather Cast, also uses this model (having taken the place of The Local AccuWeather Channel as the affiliation of certain stations' weather channels since 2013), although it also provides a feed directly to cable providers. Before NBC and its partners acquired The Weather Channel, NBCUniversal operated NBC Weather Plus, a digital multicast service that operated from 2004 to 2008 (continuing thereafter as a locally programmed service using Weather Plus' graphics system called NBC Plus). WeatherNation is currently the only one of these channels available on the major satellite providers; DirecTV added the channel in January 2014.

Prime time line-ups

Network 7 PM 8 PM 9 PM 10 PM
CNN Erin Burnett OutFront Anderson Cooper 360° CNN Tonight (Varies)
HLN various programs Nancy Grace Nancy Grace Mysteries Dr. Drew
MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews All In with Chris Hayes The Rachel Maddow Show The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell
FNC On the Record with Greta Van Susteren The O'Reilly Factor The Kelly File Hannity
Bloomberg TV Charlie Rose various programs Charlie Rose (repeat)
CNBC The Kudlow Report CNBC Specials
FBN Lou Dobbs Tonight Cavuto The Independents (Mon-Wed, Friday)
Stossel (Thursday)
Lou Dobbs Tonight
ESPN News SportsCenter

See also


  1. ^ Media Research Center Press Release February 21, 2003
  2. ^ Jeffrey N. Weatherly, et al, “Perceptions of Political Bias in the Headlines of Two Major News Organizations,” The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics (2007; 12), 91 at p. 97
  3. ^ 2007 State of the News Media
  4. ^ "PEJ Press Release (PEJ)". Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  5. ^ TV Week September 6, 2007 CNN HD launches.
  6. ^ Multichannel News April 29, 2008 FOX News to make HD bow with Time Warner
  7. ^ Cable Channel Nods to Ratings and Leans Left. New York Times. Published November 6, 2007. Accessed August 24, 2008.
  8. ^ Kurtz, Howard (2008-09-08). "MSNBC Drops Olbermann, Matthews as News Anchors".  
  9. ^ Stelter, Brian (2008-09-07). "MSNBC Takes Incendiary Hosts From Anchor Seat".  
  10. ^ MSNBC To Go HD in June
  11. ^ "State of the News Media 2004". 2004. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  12. ^ "State of the News Media 2008". 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  13. ^ Associated Press March 28, 2009 CNN in third place in prime time for first time
  14. ^ Jesse Holcomb, Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel (2012). "Cable: By the Numbers". The State of the News Media 2012. The Pew Research Center. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ State of the Media 2009 Ratings Chart
  17. ^ Fox Business Network Flop
  18. ^ Krakauer, Steve (2009-10-06). Has Fox Business Found Its Star? Imus Premiere Gets Strong Ratings. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  19. ^ New York Times September 3, 2007 Picking Up the Pace in Business TV
  20. ^ TV By the Numbers O’Reilly vs. Olbermann Through Thursday, March 19
  21. ^ December 17, 2007 The Revolution Will Be Televised (on CNBC)
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