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CNN, ABC Hold Venture Talks

AOL Time Warner Inc. has negotiated with The Walt Disney Co. about combining Cable News Network and ABC News into a joint venture.

CNN CEO Walter Isaacson confirmed the talks last Tuesday in a memo to network staffers, but said no deal was imminent.

"It's no secret that for many years, CNN has had talks with other news organizations that currently have no 24/7 cable-news distribution about working together or combining assets. Many different ideas have been put forward," Isaacson said. "At this time, CNN is not close to making a deal, but we will always explore scenarios that can make our journalism and business even stronger."

The Los Angeles Times
reported that AOL Time Warner and Disney have discussed spinning off ABC News and CNN into a new company, in which CNN would hold a majority ownership stake.

Other broadcast networks, drawn to CNN's strong international presence, have held talks with the all-news network in the past.

Last year, the network held talks with CBS about a possible news merger, but no deal surfaced. CBS News president Andrew Heyward told reporters at the Television Critics Association tour in July 2001 that he was "cautiously pessimistic" about ever reaching a deal with CNN, according to several reports at the time.