Wednesday, January 13, 2021

CNN Grounds Airport Network

 After almost 30 years, the CNN Airport Network will be grounded permanently on March 31.

Rodney Ho at to reports the network, which debuted in 1991, became a strong promotional tool, helping make the still-young operation ubiquitous to many people who may not have even had a cable subscription. It aired in dozens of airports nationwide including Hartsfield Jackson at hundreds of gates.

Over the years, the CNN Airport Network aired a mix of CNN news and entertainment and sports from sister Turner networks. It did have restrictions.

“CNN Airport Network does not air footage of commercial aviation crashes and other stories that would be inappropriate for a family-friendly airport environment,” CNN said in its 2018 media kit.

For years, CNN critics mocked the anti-Trump network for heavily relying on airport travelers for its viewership, which had cratered for much of the Trump presidency. 

  • "Best. news. EVER," NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck declared on Twitter.
  • "Wtf I love COVID now ..." Spectator USA editor Amber Athey joked. 
  • "2021 is looking up already," Daily Wire senior editor Emily Zanotti wrote. 
  • "CNN has just forfeited 95 percent of its viewership," conservative commentator Matt Walsh quipped.

As part of the deal, CNN paid airports to leave the network on, and many travel hubs even have agreements in which CNN pays for their TVs and infrastructure. The Philadelphia Inquirer previously reported that airports also receive "up to six minutes each hour to promote the airport or local attractions" as part of the deal.

According to FOX News, long-term contracts typically gave CNN the ability to curate content seen by travelers whether they like it or not. The eight-year contract that was signed in 2016 promises Miami International Airport "a maximum annual guarantee of $150,000" that may be adjusted annually to ensure the deal is on par with similar airports.

For years, the agreements had blurred the lines between news and advertising as the network blurred the lines between news and political activism.

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