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March 22, 2006
Gallup Dumps CNN

In a move that shows the decline of a once-dominant media empire, CNN has lost Gallup as a partner as the pollster notes the sharp drop in viewership for the cable news service. In a memo to staff, Gallup's CEO explains that they intend on launching their own "e-broadcasts" and will operate independent of any news network:

We have had a great partnership with CNN but it is not the right alignment for our future. The longtime partnership has been very helpful to The Gallup Poll as it put us "back big" fifteen years ago when our famous Gallup Poll had lost most of its national coverage. Our CNN partnership helped us make a great comeback. We had a great run as we just cut our 4000th segment this week. ...

WHY. 1) CNN has far fewer viewers than it did in the past and we feel that our brand was getting lost and diluted combined with the CNN brand. We have only about 200 thousand viewers during our CNN segments.

2) We are creating our own e-broadcasting programs and we don't want to be married to one broadcast network. We don't want to move to another network like CBS or Fox but rather become our own network. We cannot do this while married to CNN.

3) By dissolving our partnership with CNN we believe that Frank and other Gallup analysts will be seen as more independent so they will be more likely to be invited on a wide variety of television shows rather than primarily linked to CNN. We believe with this new found independence, we will get covered by more broadcast media because we are not the poll of their competitor.

In a statement released to Media Bistro, CNN denied that dropping viewership had any effect on Gallup's decision. Claiming that CEO Jim Clifton's statements to his staff were "unprofessional and untrue", they climb into his brain to tell Media Bistro how Clifton made his decision:

Jim Walton actually spoke with Jim Clifton, CEO of The Gallup Poll, and was told by Mr. Clifton that the reason that Gallup wanted to end their partnership was that the CNN brand was so dominant that Gallup wasn't getting the attention for the polls that they wanted.

We want to make it clear that the decision to not renew our polling arrangement had to do with Gallup's desire to produce their own broadcasts and not about CNN viewership figures. In fact, Gallup had negotiated with us for four months in an effort to extend the partnership.

CNN then went on to describe their "monthly reach" as the largest in cable news -- but they combine the viewership of all their ancillary channels to reach that conclusion. Gallup has little interest in CNN Headline News or CNNi or CNN-SI, their sports channel. They want news viewers at the flagship channel, and those numbers have dropped precipitously in the years since Fox News launched its service. This argument is self-defeating. CNN has partnered with Gallup for fourteen years -- and now they want us to believe that Gallup can't count?

CNN also claims that Gallup lept before they were pushed, as they say that CNN has been reevaluating its "polling strategy" for the last few months. This press release sounds like a divorce debate rather than a business decision and shows just how sensitive CNN has become about their domestic performance. The only "unprofessional" performance so far is CNN's hysterical reaction to a perfectly reasonable and professional internal strategy memo that tells more truth than CNN's news service can handle.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 22, 2006 6:57 AM

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