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Fox taunts CNN, Zahn

News cabler takes potshot at competish with ad

NEW YORK — Fox News Channel will up the ante in the cable news wars today, unveiling a billboard near CNN headquarters in Atlanta that takes direct aim at its rival’s new “Paula Zahn Now” show.

“Come Home Connie: CNN Needs You. Brought to you by your friends at Fox News,” reads the billboard.

“Paula Zahn Now” occupies the same weeknight, 8-9 p.m. ET spot that Chung’s show did on CNN. Chung’s show was canceled this year, with CNN execs saying it was too tabloid-like. Former Zahn employer Fox News has repeatedly pointed out that Chung actually did much better than Zahn does. CNN execs would not comment on the Fox News billboard.

Zahn’s show hasn’t fared well in the ratings, even with last month’s new format and set. Compared with Chung’s ratings last year, Zahn’s show was down 23% in households and 19% in total viewers for the Sept. 8-Oct. 3 frame. It was down 23% in the key news demo adults 25-54, 19% in adults 18-49 and 45% in adults 18-34. Except for Fox News, all the cable news nets saw auds drop over the summer and into September, compared with the same time last year — the buildup to the Iraq war.

Fox News has long owned the billboard across from CNN offices but the sign is the first to name CNN or a rival show. Earlier this year, CNN put up a billboard near Fox News HQ in midtown Gotham touting Zahn’s morning show. CNN said it was not a shot at the competish, considering its own New York offices are less than four blocks away from Fox News.

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