News pool opens; not all dive in

Despite resistance from key broadcast groups, NNS, the news-pooling venture among CBS, ABC and FOX, debuted last week. It's based at CBS' Broadcast Center in New York and is overseen by Alan Suhonen, a former Belo news executive. But Belo is one of several big groups that has reservations about the venture-and is not participating.

Other groups also have concerns with the concept and say they won't partake of it. They include Hearst-Argyle, Post-Newsweek and Cosmos.

"Nothing has really changed," says Marty Haag, senior vice president, news, at Belo. When it was first announced late last year, he said, "the fact that they can take our on-air material and send it to the world is somewhat disconcerting."

CBS News president Andrew Heyward told affiliates two weeks ago that broadcasters who sign up with CNN NewsSource get the same treatment-but pay for the privilege. Instead, CBS is providing an incentive for its affiliates to join in: A NewsPath 2000 technology upgrade is being offered free to stations that participate in NNS. Otherwise, those stations will have to pay for the upgrade.

Says Post-Newsweek's Mark Effron: "I don't want to get too philosophical about this; we just don't think it's a good idea."

There was no comment from Suhonen or other NNS executives on how well the first week went by deadline last week.