In the face of growing competition in the television marketplace, CNNfn, the attempt to parlay the CNN brand into a free-standing business-news channel, will be shut down in mid-December.
The cable network will sign off on the eve of the ninth anniversary of its launch. In a staff memo last Thursday morning CNN News Group President Jim Walton said that “exponential growth in the television marketplace since CNNfn’s 1995 launch has made it challenging to grow distribution for many niche networks in today’s highly competitive landscape.”
Mr. Walton described the decision to pull the plug on CNNfn “a decision that reflects our continuing commitment to innovation and a disciplined operating strategy that positions CNN for growth and the future.
“Our eventual plan is to evolve our business and financial news coverage on a platform where we can benefit from early-mover status, migrate our successes and build new strengths,” wrote Mr. Walton, who cautioned against interpreting the shutdown as “a statement on the health of CNN. As the fastest-growing segment of the Turner Broadcasting portfolio this year, we are outperforming our business plan across many metrics.”
Ken Jautz, executive VP of CNN News Group’s business news operations, will move over to CNN and head business news programming, which is expected to include some CNNfn programming and some new business programming.
The channel had been a pet project of former chairman of Time Warner Gerald Levin and Lou Dobbs, who managed CNNfn as its president and as executive VP of CNN until June 1999, when he left the network to make his fortune on the Internet. He returned in 2001 as anchor and managing editor of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which has diminished its business elements and broadened its focus in the past couple of years.