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United States cable news came to be in the early 1980s with the advent of cable television. Early networks include CNN in 1980, Financial News Network in 1981, and CNN2 (now HLN) in 1982. CNBCmarker was created in 1989, taking control of FNN in 1991. By 1997, the cable news industry grew to incorporate several major networks, including MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and specialty news channels Bloomberg Television and ESPNews.

There are three major cable news networks, commonly referred to as The "Big 3". These include Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.

"Big 3" news channels


The Persian Gulf War in 1991 gave CNN a higher reputation and catapulted the network past American networks for the first time in its history, largely due to the fact that CNN was the only news outlet with the ability to communicate from inside Iraqmarker during the initial hours of the American bombing campaign, with live reports from the al-Rashid Hotelmarker in Baghdadmarker by reporters Bernard Shaw, John Holliman, and Peter Arnett. Throughout the 1990s, CNN became very influential, an influence later coined as the CNN effect.

Today, CNN's personalities include Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs, Campbell Brown, Larry King, and Anderson Cooper.

During the 1990s, CNN was criticized by former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and among other conservatives of liberal bias and have referred to CNN as the "Clinton News Network." Today, CNN is considered neutral compared to Fox News and MSNBC, but critics argue they are still leaning liberal. and catering to a more liberal audience,

CNN was the first cable news network to launch in HD, doing so in September 2007. As a comparison, Fox News Channel didn't launch in HD until May 1, 2008, and MSNBC HD launched on June 29, 2009.

CNN spinoffs

In 1982, Time Warner created a spin-off called CNN2. Every thirty minutes it showed the top stories of the day. CNN2 was renamed CNN Headline News, and most recently, HLN. Time Warner created CNN International in 1985. CNN launched a special version on January 20, 1992 named CNN Airport Network which is available exclusively in United States airports, which simulcasts CNN and HLN, but with inserts of information of interest to air travelers. CNN also runs a Spanish version of its newcasts named CNN en EspaƱol.

Time Warner started two networks which failed. One, as a competitor to the upstart ESPNews, the other a competitor to CNBC. CNNSI, a combination of CNN and Sports Illustrated launched in 1996 and was shut down in 2002. CNN and Sports Illustrated continue to maintain their partnership, Sports Illustrated runs the sports section of CNN's website. CNNfn launched at the end of 1995, and was shut down after nine years on the air in December 2004.

Fox News

Fox News was founded by News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, a self-described libertarian. Murdoch hired Republican strategist Roger Ailes to be CEO of Fox News, leading to much controversy. FNC has been criticized for conservative bias, especially by media watch groups. Since the network's launch, Bill O'Reilly has hosted his own show The O'Reilly Factor which is the highest rated cable news program on air and has held that title since late 2001. Fox News uses the logos Fair and Balanced and "We Report. You Decide.". Despite some controversy, Fox News has stressed their multi-politically viewed commentators (such as independent Bill O'Reilly, libertarian Glenn Beck, conservative Sean Hannity, and liberal Alan Colmes) and has dominated the American cable news ratings in recent years.


When the network was launched in 1996, the leading hosts included Jodi Applegate, John Gibson, Tim Russert, and Brian Williams. For over a decade, the network's ratings were consistenly last. Phil Griffin became president of MSNBC in mid-2008 and MSNBC has become increasingly politically liberal since then, particularly in its prime-time lineup.

Primetime Commentators Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann have harshly criticized Former President George W. Bush over the years. Each of the conservative commentaters on MSNBC; Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough, are paleoconservatives and Bush critics themselves, which has resulted in MSNBC being criticized for being liberally biased. In September 2008, radio host Rachel Maddow was given her own show adding to the primetime lineup. Radio host Ed Schultz was also given his own show in April 2009. There has been speculation that the 10 PM slot may be filled in the future.

MSNBC launched their HD version on June 29, 2009.


Until the start of 2002, CNN was the number one cable news network in ratings. Fox News has been number one in audience since .

In March 2009, MSNBC finished in second place in prime-time rankings, ahead of CNN for the first time in its existence. Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC, attributed this to the network's decision to become more liberal with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow in primetime slots along with problems at CNN.

Average Viewership During Election Events:

Compaign Event CNN MSNBC Fox News
Super Tuesday 3,640,000 2,110,000 3,890,000
Democratic Convention 3,152,000 1,586,000 3,836,000
Republican Convention 2,413,000 1,111,000 6,186,000
Election Day 12,292,000 5,888,000 15,027,000

Other cable news channels

General news

Television network ABC launched a 24 hour news channel named ABC News Now on July 26, 2004. It is available through some digital television providers, broadband and streaming video, though the online live broadcasting has been eliminated.

Financial news

In 1989, CNBC was launched by NBC Universal. It was followed by Bloomberg Television in 1994, created by Bloomberg L.P., which is lead by New York Citymarker Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg TV is currently the only business network that isn't in High Definition. In October 2007, Murdoch launched his own financial network called Fox Business Network saying CNBC is too "negative towards business" and promised to make Fox Business more "business friendly".

The Big 3:
CNBC Bloomberg TV Fox Business Network
Headquarters Englewood Cliffs, N.J. New York City New York City
Number of Households in 2008 97 million 47 million 44 million
Profits in 2008 $350 million $15.6 million Owned by larger Fox network*
Management Mark Hoffman (President) Michael Clancy (Executive Editor) Roger Ailes (CEO)
  • Because Fox business is owned by the larger Fox Entertainment group and not a different entity there is no reliable source on the profits or losses the Fox Business division represents.


Nielson doesn't track Fox Business ratings, but peaked at 81,000 viewers. Bloomberg also doesn't subscribe to Nielson and ratings are assumed to be very small.. Currently, CNBC usually has between 200,000-400,000 viewers during the day. In 2000, CNBC had higher ratings then CNN during market hours.

Sports News

ESPN launched a 24 hour sports news channel named ESPNews on November 1, 1996, which is carried by most cable and satellite providers. It airs news, highlights, press conferences, and commentary by analysts all in relation to sports.

Prime Time Lineups

Network 7 PM 8 PM 9 PM 10 PM
CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight Campbell Brown Larry King Live Anderson Cooper 360
Fox News Channel The Fox Report The O'Reilly Factor Hannity On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews Countdown with Keith Olbermann The Rachel Maddow Show Countdown with Keith Olbermann (Repeat)
HLN Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell Nancy Grace The Joy Behar Show Nancy Grace (Repeat)
Bloomberg Television Bloomberg Live Bloomberg Now Money & Politics Night Talk
CNBC The Kudlow Report CNBC Specials On the Money
Fox Business Network America's Nightly Scoreboard The Dave Ramsey Show Cavuto (Repeat) America's Nightly Scoreboard (Repeat)

See also


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