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Commentary > Wastler's Wanderings
Adieu, CNNfn
Today the scrappy little business network, this Web site's sister operation, shuts down.
December 15, 2004: 11:48 AM EST

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Today is the end of CNNfn, CNN's television business channel.

Sad doesn't even begin to describe how we feel about it. Here at the network's headquarters in New York, where the decision to close the network was announced in late October, the work has continued, somberly, in anticipation of the end.

And it is here.

To be clear the Web site, CNN/Money, will continue. While we trace our roots back to our simultaneous launch with CNNfn in 1996, we evolved into a different corporate animal over the years. What was merged with Money Magazine's Web site three years ago to become The union has proven to be highly successful. We rank up there with the top Internet players in personal finance and business news. And we plan to stay there.

But the Internet provides instant universal distribution. TV does not. Getting networks into cable and satellite systems takes money. And, as in every business calculation, you have to look at what you pay versus what you get. For CNNfn the equation for stretching beyond its current 30 million homes didn't add up.

After the initial announcement, many of you wrote in to express dismay, incredulity, and encouragement. Some of you even engaged in a little "I told you so" (everyone thinks they're a media critic). Our colleagues in the TV operation appreciate your interest and concern.

Video More Video
A look back at the network's nine years -- from the beginning to breaking news, fun times and on-air bloopers.
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To answer some of the general questions raised ... yes, the decision to close the network is final ... although some of you had some pretty interesting business models to consider.

Also, you will see some of the CNNfn stalwarts, like "The Dolans Unscripted" and "CNNfn's Open House," on CNN and Headline News. And shows that played on both CNN and CNNfn, like "Lou Dobbs Tonight" and "In the Money," will remain. And some of the other bits and pieces that made up CNNfn's broadcasting day will likely resurface on its sister channels as well.

If there is a lesson at large for the public to take away from CNNfn, it's that synergy isn't the threat media-phobes make it out to be. Time Warner, a content and pipes operator, could have used its corporate clout and cable operations to force feed CNNfn to even more American homes. That didn't happen.

Perhaps that's what made CNNfn so scrappy. It had the underdog's sense of optimism and purpose, which ultimately produced some great TV. And the network provided some of the best hurry-up offense coverage of major business events ... from Asia meltdowns to hedge fund panics to corporate bankruptcies.

If you weren't some of the lucky few to get CNNfn in your home, we're putting up a video retrospective of the network -- great moments, major events, and bloopers -- on the Web site later today. Yeah, yeah, you got to pay a few bucks to do the video ... look, this whole thing is about making money to stay in business, right?

In the meantime we here at the Web site, and apparently many of you out there, will miss the network and the people who made it happen. Let's hope we can do it again sometime.  Top of page

Allen Wastler is Managing Editor of CNN/Money and a commentator on CNN. He can be emailed at

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