Why is CNN the standard tv station for public televisions?

More than any other I notice public television sets are set to CNN, at least in the USA. For instance, almost every airport,(sometimes sports are on with ESPN but rarer) has the old CNN.

Is this just human herd behavior that at one point everyone just sets it to CNN when they install a new television set? You would think they would have so many stations to choose from though, and it is not really a fashion that one wants to conform to. Is CNN really that spectacular?

IME it’s FoxNews - they are more popular overall.


Doesn’t like 90% of the CNN viewership come from airport lounges, dentist and doctor’s offices, etc.? :slight_smile:

I agree it’s CNN. In hotel lobbies and bars, it’s CNN. Airport bars and lounges, CNN again.

To me, just saying “CNN” rolls off the tongue easier too.

My experience is also with Fox News - maybe it’s a matter of regional geography?

Fox vs CNN is definitely geographically dependent. The reason though for news channels is that they are of interest to a broad segment of the population and rarely contain offensive material. If you’re an airport and have on say Seinfeld reruns and they start talking about being ‘master of their domain.’ you get complaints from parents about their kids being exposed to adult content. If you have on a random news channel, even if it’s talking about Trump pee-pee tapes, you can simply say that it’s the news and it’s a shame that this is where we are.

I’d venture a guess it’s inertia from the early days of cable. CNN was the cable news station; probably became huge from the OJ chase & trial. Lots of people watched it, it became the default station & now it’s hard to overcome inertia of it.

It is regional specific, but in places like airports, CNN is generally considered a middle of the road sort of news channel. So it’s seen as relatively safe, unlike MSNBC or FOX News.

Yes, it’s also the default channel for US news if you’re abroad - the English language channels you’ll always find in hotel rooms are CNN and BBC World.

What I don’t get is why they play a news station, of whatever sort, without sound. Sports one can generally follow without sound, but news without sound is pointless.

I had a conversation with the guy who cuts my hair, and has a TV on in his salon once; he originally had Bravo on (he’s a somewhat flamboyant gay man), and apparently one of his clients came in and had her child with her, and wasn’t too wild about the 10 year old watching one of the “Real Housewives” shows.

So he decided to tune his TV to HGTV- there’s nothing controversial on there, and it’s something he likes to watch. I imagine CNN or most other news stations are similar- most are not controversial in their own right, and most people are interested in something they show- domestic news, international news, sports, entertainment, etc…

And… stuff like sports is not something everyone likes, especially not the prime-time stuff. While I like sports, I’d much rather watch a half-hour of CNN than a cornhole tournament on ESPN.

Regarding its ubiquity in airports: CNN has a specialty channel specifically tailored for use in airports, on which they screen out non-family-friendly content, as well as content on airliner crashes.

My assumption would be that in at least some of those settings, it’s contractual – i.e., that CNN (or Fox News, or whomever) pays the venue to be the exclusive channel on display.

In most restaurants with sports channels, most of what they show during the day is boring as hell. Not much sports on at 10 am anyone wants to watch. CNN also has short and repeating content, perfect for places with lots of turnover.
Imagine watching a football game, two minutes left, and your plane is boarding.

Where I work, the customers who ask us to switch from CNN to FOX are usually polite.
The customers who ask us to switch from FOX to CNN are often rude.

It’s less hassle to keep it on CNN.

I’ve been there. CNN Airport sometimes carries live sports; I was watching an NFL playoff game while at the gate a few years ago, and it went into overtime just as I had to board my plane. :smiley:

There’s the tickers on the bottom of the screen. I find I can usually get a good idea of what’s going on just by reading the tickers, even without sound.

CNN has much bigger and far-flung news gathering operation. If something happens in Greenland or the Seychelles or Iceland, CNN will have someone there in two hours or less, and they’ll be familiar with the situation. Fox can’t compete with that. They’re good if it happens in London or Paris or Egypt, but outside of those places, they have to arrange transportation and study up on the plane ride.

CNN is huge compared to Fox.

They made it big with the Persian Gulf War way back in 1991. The only 24 hour news channel, and they had people inside of Iraq broadcasting.

Because a lot of people in an airport terminal don’t want to hear it.

You can ignore the TV by not looking at it, and look at it if you do want to see the news (and there is usually a running text/caption). But if you play the sound all about, you (the airport management) will annoy many travelers who don’t want to hear it - especially travelers who are stuck in the terminal for hours waiting for flight.