CNN topper urges caution with Iraq

Prexy Cramer supports diverse views

SINGAPORE — CNN Intl. Networks prexy Chris Cramer is urging news networks to remain balanced as the threat of U.S. action against Iraq grows.

“As we appear to move towards some kind of military action against Iraq by the US and its allies… what are news channel controllers doing to adequately represent all viewpoints on their airwaves?” he said. “What are they doing to seek out diverse views, unpopular views — dare I say it, unpatriotic views?”

Cramer also renewed CNNI’s commitment to regionalization during his keynote speech at the four-day Cable and Satellite Broadcasters’ Assn. of Asia confab, which wrapped Dec. 6.

CNNI is the channel most watched by top managers in the region, according to PAX data. “We are no longer just a hotel channel watched by U.S. business travelers — they are now just 2% of our audience. Some 90% of viewers watch us at home, which means we’re reaching the affluent adults and business decision makers of the region.”

Cramer says 95% of programming is produced solely for an overseas audience, and that programming from Hong Kong and Asia, London and Europe accounts for half of that. “Many media organizations around the globe have spent the last few years closing their overseas operations. Foreign news, they said, wasn’t sexy any more. It’s a sad fact that CNN has more overseas bureaus than all of the American news broadcasters put together.”

Serving the audience well makes good business sense in the light of news rivalry Stateside. Ted Turner predicted ten years ago that viewer ratings would be the death of broadcast news on TV — and in the U.S. he has been proved almost right, according to Cramer.

And with news so cutthroat in the U.S., it makes sense to seek alternative revenue streams outside U.S. borders. “Because it’s not just the case that when America sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. The reverse is true as well.”

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