Turner Eyes New CNN Retail Spinoff

Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Private Networks unit plansto launch a Cable News Network offshoot next year, targeting malls, college campuses,doctors' offices and other retail environments where people wait in lines fordistribution.

Turner hopes to launch the network -- with the workingtitle, "CNN On The Go" -- "early next year," TPN senior vice presidentDeborah Cooper said.

She added that the company is also in discussions withcompanies that own "other modes of transportation" outside of its CNN AirportNetwork. Reaching 11 million travelers at 32 airports monthly, CNN Airport remains theflagship of the TPN group.

CNN On The Go could help TPN to grab a bigger cut of theplace-based media market. So far, its strategy has been to sell programming to privatenetworks, such as Mills Corp.'s MillsTV mall network, Willis Stein &Partners' College Television Network Inc. and AccentHealth Inc.'s AccentTV,which is shown on monitors in physicians' waiting rooms.

TPN's business model for CNN Airport was to pay forthe cost of installing monitors in airports and to share advertising revenues with airportoperators. For CNN On The Go, TPN plans to offer "about as many business models asthere are businesses," Cooper said.

One of the biggest challenges for CNN On The Go is to finda distribution technology to deliver the programming to monitors TPN would install inretail environments, Cooper said. Using cable is not an option, she added.

Cooper said she has a meeting scheduled next month with atechnology team to work on the issue, warning that "it could all fizzle" withoutan effective distribution system.

Some place-based media executives, including some companiesthat buy programming from TPN, said they welcomed the competition.

"We would view them as competition, but at the sametime, the more people that get into place-based media, the more credible the venuebecomes," MillsTV vice president of sponsorship Tony Wells said.

MillsTV's programming contract with TPN expires at theend of the year, Wells said. The company is looking for replacement programming from othernational content providers and broadcast stations in markets near its malls -- located inPhiladelphia; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Dallas;Houston; Chicago, Phoenix; and Los Angeles -- he added.

But Cooper said she would look to extend MillsTV'sprogramming contract, insisting that CNN On The Go won't compete directly with itsexisting partners. "What we will look to do is go out and build new businesses,rather than changing the existing ones," she added.

Prime Spot Media -- which distributes MallTV to monitorslocated in mall food courts -- isn't concerned about competition from CNN On The Go,chairman Stephen Davis said.

The company expected to close a $15 million round offinancing last week, which would allow it to expand MallTV from 29 malls to 200, Davissaid, adding, "I don't see where there's going to be room for CNN."