The headline for Cable News Network in 2004, according to the network’s freshly minted executive vice president and general manager, is that there are no major changes in the works.
"2004 will be a year of stability," predicted Princell Hair, who joined CNN four months ago from Viacom Inc., where he had been VP of news for Viacom’s station group.
Consistency would indeed be a new story for CNN, the second-rated cable news channel which has endured numerous management and programming changes in recent years. But, Hair, speaking Tuesday at his first Press Tour as a CNN exec, said, "The changes that have occurred over the course of last year have really prepared us well for the future."
Of course, CNN still has a long way to go to come close to catching leader Fox News Channel. Hair said CNN’s goal is to get viewers to watch longer. That is an area where Fox (which Hair referred to as "the F-word") has had success in prime thanks in part to its talk-radio style and personality-driven programs.
To get CNN viewers to stick around longer, Hair says CNN needs to continue to execute the "fundamentals," like storytelling, writing and journalism, on a consistent basis. He says he is working to improve on-air presentation and showcase its journalism better.