CNN targets net news

'Moneyline' grows to an hour at 6:30 p.m.

NEW YORK — CNN will expand “Moneyline With Lou Dobbs” to one hour and begin the show at 6:30 p.m. in an attempt to exploit an area where CNN execs believe the broadcast networks are vulnerable: their nightly newscasts.

“There’s a disconnect that’s growing,” said Richard Kaplan, president, CNN/U.S., speaking about viewer satisfaction with the networks’ offerings.The expansion of “Moneyline” is also driven by financial considerations. The newscast earns the highest ad rates of any show on CNN. Ad prices for the 7-7:30 p.m. Lou Dobbs show are four times higher than CNN currently gets for avails in the 6:30-7 p.m. timeslot, said Larry Goodman, president of sales for CNN.

Pricey demos

“Moneyline” generates such high ad rates because advertisers are willing to pay a premium to reach the affluent viewers who watch the show.

The hourlong show, retitled “Moneyline News Hour With Lou Dobbs,” will premiere at 6:30 June 22.

The hour will keep the straightforward hard-news style of the half-hour show, but will add general news coverage to its financial news base, said Dobbs, president of CNNfn and executive VP of CNN.

“You will get all the news you need that day,” said Gerald Levin, chairman of CNN parent Time Warner, who attended a Wednesday luncheon to promote the new “Moneyline.” “It’s a more substantive way to go about the news rather than the broadcast networks, who are going about this from the perspective, ‘How do I retain the viewers I have?’ ”

Modest expectations

It won’t take millions of people switching from the networks’ nightly newscasts to “Moneyline” for CNN to meet its ratings projections. Dobbs’ half-hour show averages a 0.6 rating in CNN’s universe of 70 million households. CNN averages a 0.4 rating for “CNN Worldview” in the 6:30-7 p.m. slot, and Goodman said he’s selling the new 6:30 p.m. half-hour of “Moneyline” at a 0.6 rating. The evening network newscasts, in comparison, all average more than a 6 rating across all U.S. TV households.

Expanding “Moneyline” fits into CNN’s new strategy of creating more appointment viewing, said Tom Johnson, chairman, president and CEO, CNN News Group. Johnson added that he believes CNN performs well when big news breaks, but “we don’t do as well in a calmer news environment.”

Creating more shows that people view by appointment will, according to Johnson, increase CNN ratings during slow news times.

Staffing up

To accommodate the show’s expanded length and scope, the editorial and production staffs of “Moneyline” have doubled,” said David Bohrman, executive producer of “Moneyline.” Bohrman added that the new program will have a new set and will use more modern graphics.

“Moneyline” premiered on CNN in 1980, the year the news channel was born. Dobbs has hosted the program from its inception.