CNN is now carrying on separate conversations - with CBS and more recently ABC - about some kind of newsgathering alliance.
A couple of months ago, when word surfaced that CBS and CNN were discussing such an alliance, ABC News president David Westin called CNN executives and urged them to call before finalizing any deal. In the meantime, Westin's friend and neighbor Walter Isaacson took over the helm at CNN and has talked to Westin about potential partnership opportunities.
Sources say control is not an issue, at least not for ABC and CBS, because neither is willing to cede it to CNN. None of the parties involved had any comment for the record.
An ABC source characterized the talks with CNN as being in the "very early stages," and focused on ways that the two sides might share and defray the huge costs of gathering news.
CBS sources have also cautioned that nothing is imminent. At the TV critics press tour in California late last month, CBS News president Andrew Heyward quipped that he was "guardedly pessimistic" that the two sides might actually come to some sort of agreement.
- Steve McClellan