Adios, CNN International…for now

CNN-InternationalI find myself in an odd place: abroad. Until recently, I had CNN International included in my cable package. I had come to view CNN when there was something that resonated in an immediate way in my life. What was happening in Paris? Who was winning in New York? At those times, I would leave CNN International on as background static for a couple of hours. I tuned into CNN by force of habit. But I found myself more and more alienated as time went on.

CNN International insisted on taking breaks at inopportune moments, and the channel does not fill its ad air time with ads for commercial product as does domestic US CNN. CNN International never takes a real break. It fills its ad time with pushy self-patting slots for any one of its stars. Becky Anderson with her emphatic and staccato speech patterns is featured over and over again. CNN defines Anderson as an important world presence simply by having her repeat from various geographies across the globe, in Jordan, in Rome, in New Delhi, in Istanbul, in Abu Dhabi.

Okay, I got it the first time. I had and have no need to see the promo for the umpteenth time every time I tune in. But there is no stopping the repetition on CNN International. It just goes on and on.

Way ahead of Anderson, Christiane Amanpour is the CNN star who gets to greet the real movers and shakers of the world. Her brand is Amanpour. – the period or dot seems to emphasize priority or seniority. Amanpour’s main CNN promo, repeated again and again, is built on her greeting the national, international and cultural or Hollywood leaders of our contemporary world; Mr. President, Welcome to the program. Welcome Robert Redford. Prime Minister, Welcome to our program. Foreign Minister, Welcome.

 Repeatedly, Hala Gorani tells us that When you speak to a person directly affected, that is when you complete your understanding of the news. It sounds good until you realize that those of us who cannot speak directly to a person affected in Iraq or Nigeria or Orlando have no understanding of the news, I guess.

CNN International does that to you. By insisting on their promo ads ad nauseam (pun intended), they give you the opportunity to overthink the basis of their claims. CNN is the news source that we trust. Do we?

Going further, on CNN International we are now advised when planning travel abroad to unabashedly consider staying in a CNN enabled hotel.  

CNN’s repetitive loop of self-promotion ultimately began to come across to me as no more than benign but irritating propaganda.

For me, the question came down to whether I should continue to tune in, to continue to reward CNN for its sophmorish approach to its international viewers. Should I continue to tune into CNN International as a news source?

In my mind’s eye, the presented news programing came to occupy about a 50% window of the total broadcast; self-propaganda the other 50%.

Cable provider to the rescue

Case resolved by Claro, my local cable provider! Claro did me a great service last month by dropping CNN International from my coverage. I would now need to pay extra, Claro told me, to view all the Becky Anderson, Christiane Amanpour, Richard Quest et al repetitive promos. Are you kidding me? No, thank you.

Ouff! I could finally breathe. The repetition was over. Claro forced me to see that I have options, perhaps not as intutitive as tuning in to CNN, but options nevertheless.

I just needed to refocus my habits. CNN does not provide a live internet stream unless I have a cable contract with a local U.S. provider. I do not. NBC’s live stream, their website tells me, is not available where I live; ABC’s live stream doesn’t load.

On the other hand, newspaper sites, including the New York Times, are continually incorporating video into their breaking news coverage. And I was ecstatic to find that CBS (Always ON) provides a free internet live video streaming news service available where I live – Colombia. I have no idea who their stars are, but CBS has quickly become my go-to place for breaking news. Sky News from Britain is also available live 24/7, as are various other channels worldwide from India to Spain to Al Jazeera English.

Google News had become an essential player in the transfer of news from the cable world to the internet. At Google News, any keyword entered will pull up reporting of what is going on right now with thousands of references, TV and print, at various locations around the world.

Am I willing to pay a premium over and above my regular cable bill just to have CNN International. Uh-uh.

Adios CNN. (At least for now!).

Christopher Burke (17 Posts)

Christopher Burke is a freelance writer and cartoonist based in Bogota, Colombia. His cartoons are often in the pages of the Chronicle of Higher Education and are always found at http://www.burkecartoons.com. His observations on daily life in Colombia can be found at http://christopherburkecolombia.wordpress.com.