CNN Under Seige: Left-Leaning Ideology Could Irreparably Damage Network's Airport Monopoly


Cable news networks have faced accusations of partisan biases since the dawn of the 24-hour news era, though criticism from both sides of the aisle has flourished throughout the Trump administration.

While politically charged coverage from commentators across the spectrum remains popular among those in the networks’ respective core audiences, some analysts say CNN could face a unique challenge in the current climate.

With an exclusive and profitable agreement to broadcast its news coverage in airports across the U.S., the network is now facing some backlash from passengers and pundits who feel people are being subjected to what amounts to an anti-Trump agenda.

Fox News, a chief CNN rival with a reputation among critics for being too friendly to Trump, recently published a lengthy report on the airport deal.

CNN Airport, as the package is called, includes different news coverage than the network. It provides additional coverage of weather and sports while limiting content that might be considered graphic.

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Participating airports receive an opportunity to advertise their local markets for up to six minutes per hour on screens throughout the airport, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The network reportedly has a monopoly on the news airing on the screens inside 50 U.S. airports, including 20 of the busiest 25 airports in the country.

According to CNN, its airport programming is viewed by 323 million people each year.

One Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesperson said the motivation for airports to agree to CNN’s terms is primarily financial.

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“CNN Airport covers the costs related to the TVs and related infrastructure, provides programming specifically geared for airports, and pays us for the opportunity to be in our facility,” the source said.

A Miami International Airport representative cited evidence that CNN was willing to provide the most money for the right to air its programming.

According to a document cited by Fox News, a contract between CNN and the airport provides for “a maximum annual guarantee of $150,000” subject to change each year to remain competitive with other airports.

That eight-year contract was signed in 2016 and reportedly gives CNN the exclusive right to provide its own curated content to the airport’s passengers.

Critics of the network are pushing back, however, hoping to convince airports that a lucrative deal is not a sufficient reason to turn their televisions over to CNN.

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Roger L. Simon wrote in a PJ Media article late last year that the time had come to end these contracts, arguing passengers are being “force fed the network’s vision of the world as they sit stupefied in airport lounges waiting endlessly for a delayed flight.”

His argument hinged less on the CNN Airport agreements than the comparison of watching the network to “having your brains drilled.”

Efforts to end the airport deals, including a White House petition, have failed to garner widespread support. A spokesperson for Salt Lake City International Airport, however, confirmed that there has been backlash related to the arrangement.

“We have received complaints about CNN and the content they air,” the representative said, noting that for now the airport is contractually obligated to display it.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment