CBS Needs a Clue

Cal Thomas | Syndicated columnist | Monday, May 12, 2003

CBS Needs a Clue

The big media never get it.   Last week, the venerable CBS Evening News generated one of its lowest ratings ever -- pulling fewer than six million viewers.  


News division president Andrew Heyward recently told a group of media executives there is a “sameness” among the three broadcast news programs and “I’m not proud of it.”   Heyward said the key to success is differentiation, but that the only network to pull that off is the #1 Fox News Channel.


If the public thinks the media are one-sided, it doesn’t matter what management thinks.   When you’re selling a product and the customers aren’t buying it, you can either change the product or suffer a drop in sales.  


The big media product is all liberal, all the time.   Conservatives now have an alternative with Fox and with talk radio.   CBS tried to do something different with the Clinton-Dole “debates” on the network’s long-running “60 minutes” program.  It bombed because Dole is no match for Clinton.


If CBS really wanted to boost ratings, they would have put someone like Rush Limbaugh up against Clinton.   But then Mr. Clinton would never have done it because there would’ve been a much greater chance of him losing the debate.   So the big media denial continues and their ratings continue to decline.  


I’m Cal Thomas in Washington.


CBS Needs a Clue