Merger talks between ABC News and CNN end in failure

Distracted executives at AOL Time Warner have ended talks with the Walt Disney Company over a proposed merger of its CNN news operation with ABC News.

The highly controversial merger proposal sank as CNN’s parent company struggled to deal with the declining performance of its America Online service. Originally conceived as a way to reduce the costs of television news production, skeptics always questioned whether the combining of two such diverse newsroom cultures could achieve that goal.

“For us, the potential problems associated with the completion of such a transaction, and the integration of these two distinct and great cultures was more than we wanted to pursue at this time,” AOL Time Warner said last week in a written statement after ending the negotiations.

Fearful news personnel at both ABC and CNN expected that a merger would have resulted in massive layoffs. It would also have resulted in a significant power shift, since under the proposal CNN would have owned 70 percent of the merged company.

Even AOL Time Warner’s largest shareholder, Ted Turner, who founded CNN, publicly renounced the merger.

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