Calif. News Will Be Cable-Exclusive

California News Service, looking to launch next year, will be offered exclusively to cable operators and not to direct-broadcast satellite providers, one of the officials behind the start-up said last week.

"Operators want a service they can brand," said Ed Turner, one of the four former Cable News Network executives trying to get the service off the ground.

Turner, president of Sacramento, Calif.-based CNS, is trying to nail down $45 million in financing for the new, 24-hour statewide news channel. His executive team includes Ken Chamberlain, a former CNN bureau chief who is chairman of CNS; Ted Kavanau, who launched CNN Headline News and will head the new network's newsgathering effort; and Bill Shaw, who has been managing businesses for Ted Turner and will oversee the start-up's operations.

"California is so large and so diverse, I look at it as a country network, because it is a nation unto itself," Turner said of CNS. "The format is California news and the rest of the world as it affects California interests."

There is no 24-hour news channel presently covering the entire Golden State, although there are all-news outlets that report on portions of it-BayTV in San Francisco and Orange County NewsChannel.

Turner maintained that California's local TV stations do a poor job of covering statewide issues, particularly politics.

"This will be news for grown-ups, for the leadership of the state," he said. "At local TV stations, there's a lot of emphasis on the more tabloid side of the news. There is no TV station in California with a bureau in Sacramento.

"We will do a lot of political and government coverage. I'd also like to do a book show, a media show and a talk show."

Turner said he's already discussed carriage for CSN with cable operators in California and claims he's had "a very positive reception." The service has 8 million potential subscribers in its California footprint, according to Turner.

In the past, some cable operators have said they prefer local news to statewide or regional news. CSN, which has been in the works for 18 months, plans to offer three zoned feeds: one for Southern California, or the Greater Los Angeles area; one for Northern California, or San Jose and above; and one Central Valley feed, which would include the Bakersfield region.

The all-news channel plans to open bureaus in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Orange County, Riverside and Silicon Valley.

Turner-who was involved in a failed attempt to create a public-affairs cable channel, The Forum Network, in Washington, D.C.-plans for CSN to launch three to four months after financing for the all-news outlet is secured.