CNN tilts business coverage to Silicon Valley as AT&T era dawns

CNN IS LAUNCHING a new business website and expanding its technology coverage, grouping its business websites - CNN Money, CNN Tech and CNN Media - under the new brand CNN Business. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER LEE

NEW YORK – CNN is launching a new business website and expanding its technology coverage, part of a broader restructuring of the network’s digital operation after it missed financial targets last year.

Starting this fall, CNN will group its business websites – CNN Money, CNN Tech and CNN Media – under the new brand CNN Business. The cable news network, now owned by phone giant AT&T Inc., will also hire about six journalists to cover technology from a new bureau in San Francisco, focusing on Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Uber – and the impact they have on businesses and people.

“We want to be a site that explains how this change is affecting every person’s life and every single company around the world,” said Jason Farkas, the veteran producer who will lead CNN Business.

The changes are among the first at CNN since AT&T acquired network parent Time Warner Inc. last month for $85.4 billion. CNN also plans a new streaming video service aimed at business and technology, which dovetails with AT&T’s interest in mobile video. “Markets Now,” a weekly online show about financial markets currently hosted by Richard Quest, will be among the first shows to appear on the video service, Farkas said.

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Dallas-based AT&T, which offers phone, internet and pay-TV services, took over Time Warner and its stable of entertainment properties after winning an antitrust suit brought by the U.S. government. The Justice Department decided Thursday not to give up and will appeal the ruling that let the deal go through.

Origin Story

CNN Money started in 2001 as a partnership with Time Inc.’s Money magazine. In recent years, the network has hired prominent journalists like media reporter Brian Stelter, a senior correspondent and host of the weekly show “Reliable Sources.” But to many consumers, CNN Money is still synonymous with personal finance.

Andrew Morse, general manager of CNN Digital Worldwide, said he expects to attract a new crop of advertisers by increasing the focus on technology coverage. Bloomberg competes with CNN in providing financial news and information.

After missing its financial targets in 2017, CNN’s digital team laid off a few dozen employees in February. Like many other online media companies, CNN has been forced to cut staff while struggling to compete with Google and Facebook, which dominate digital advertising.

The network continues to experiment online and pull the plug when things don’t work. In March, it introduced a newsletter called Pacific that chronicles how technology is reshaping Hollywood. In January, the company cut ties with YouTube star Casey Neistat 14 months after buying his video-sharing app. It also ended its daily Snapchat news show in December, four months after it started.

CNN is also exploring new online subscription products, Morse said. The network’s goal is to generate $1 billion in digital revenue by 2022, up from about $370 million last year.

Gerry Smith is a reporter for Bloomberg News.