Advanced Television

TBS boss “very unhappy” with CNN ratings tumble

June 1, 2012

By Chris Forrester

Phil Kent, Turner Broadcasting’s CEO, speaking at Nomura Bank’s Media & Telecom Summit in New York, has admitted to analysts that he was “very unhappy” at CNN’s recent ratings slump. CNN’s primetime numbers hit a 20-year ‘low’ in May. Kent said CNN had plans in hand to improve the quality of its broadcasts and boost viewing.

Some of CNN’s problems were self-inflicted, he said. However, he also pointed out that the network has had a quieter new flow this year compared to last year, and even the US presidential election has been “pretty boring” to most people, although he expected that to heat up as the news calendar gets closer to November.

However, the self-inflicted problems stem from the fact that CNN had not put its best shows on air. He praised Piers Morgan’s show, and that of Erin Burnett, both of which lead in to Anderson Cooper’s later spot (on the US domestic service). But he added that some shows needed replacing. “I am a firm believer that if we raise the quality of these shows and make them a little surprising – sometimes also it’s also a little repetitive throughout the day – if we raise the quality and we do it with consistency the ratings will be just fine. I can’t tell you that we’ll beat this one or that one. But they’ll be a hell of a lot better than they are right now and we’ll be fine.”

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