MEDIA PROFILE: Dobbs helps viewers rediscover the value of'Moneyline' - A broader-reaching format and the ability to get BillGates at the drop of a hat all signal the return of CNN's Moneyline tomajor-player status. Craig McGuire reports

Lou Dobbs and his producers were tailoring the June 28 edition of

CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline around the financial markets, following a

strong midweek surge on Wall Street. That was until the Microsoft story

broke. Six hours later, Dobbs was telling viewers, "Tonight, Microsoft

wins. An appeals court throws out the Microsoft breakup order. Bill

Gates is our guest."



Not many shows have the clout to book Bill Gates on such short

notice.



But for Moneyline staff, having the Windows wizard on the show was a

chance to ask some probing questions.



Though it was a scramble, Moneyline producers had worked on the

Microsoft story for weeks. What they didn't know was the outcome and the

timing.



(In fact, Steve Young, who headed Moneyline's coverage, was on vacation

in Europe when the story broke).



"We quickly assigned four reporters to look at the story from different

angles," says Bill Dorman, Moneyline EP. "They included a hard wrap,

what comes next, impact inside the industry, competitors' reaction,

context, and background."



Such is today's Moneyline, much broader in scope and friendlier to the

less financially savvy than when it launched in the early 1980s.



This year marked the return of anchor Dobbs, lured back by CNN's new

owner AOL Time Warner. He resigned as anchor and president of CNN

Financial News in June 1999 after repeated run-ins with network brass in

Atlanta.



Dobbs headed Web site Space.com before returning to replace co-hosts

Stuart Varney and Willow Bay.



Moneyline lost 25% of its audience in Dobbs' absence, falling behind its

chief cable competitor, CNBC's Business Center. Since Dobbs' return

(with a reported $4 million salary), the show has gained an

estimated 19,000 viewers nightly. According to AC Nielsen numbers for

the first seven weeks under the new regime (May 14 - July 29), the show

was watched in 190,000 total households. However, it still lags some

39,000 viewers behind Business Center.



In the "Lou's Back" campaign, CNN has trumpeted Moneyline's evolution,

marked by more economic coverage and better integration of the worlds of

finance, politics, and current events. Moneyline covers everything from

the markets to taxes, education, energy, science, and technology.



But Dobbs' ability to draw A-list movers and shakers has made the

biggest difference to the show. For example, in addition to Gates and a

parade of antitrust attorneys, Moneyline also secured Attorney General

John Ashcroft.



If that weren't enough, consider that the same show also included

interviews with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussing Pentagon

spending, and CEO Henry Silverman chronicling the resurgence of

Cendant.



"Much of what we do is focused around the high-caliber interviews we

offer, including three to four guests nightly," says Dorman. In fact,

some of the first guests to be interviewed by Dobbs since his return

included Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, William Harrison (in his first

interview since becoming CEO of the merged J.P. Morgan Chase), Citigroup

topper Sandy Weill, and Ford CEO Jac Nasser.



"We try to be the smartest broadcast in business news," says Dorman.



So, while you may not have a Bill Gates or a Michael Eisner on your

client list, you may have an analyst or expert who's tracking the next

big thing.



"The closer connection you can make to the news of the day, or of the

week - whether it's a trend or news that happened that day - the better

shot you have," explains Dorman.



The weekday show is always live, and bookings are made pretty close to

show time, so make sure to have your client media trained ahead of

time.



"It generally depends on the topic, but usually the news broke the day

before or that morning, developed in the afternoon, and our guests

comment on it that night," says Dorman.



Analysts and experts are held to a pretty high bar. "They must have a

track record of success," says Dorman. "And we keep track of what they

recommend on the show. That's a benchmark that determines if they'll be

invited back."



Deadline pressure usually begins as soon as Wall Street markets close at

4pm EST. The hour-long show airs at 6:30pm. "I'm still stunned when

people call at 5:30pm and want to have an extended conversation," says

Dorman.



CONTACT LIST

Lou Dobbs Moneyline

Address: Five Penn Plaza,

20th Floor, New York, NY 10001 Tel: (212) 714-7800

Fax: (212) 714-7962

E-mail: firstname.lastname@ cnn.com

Anchor: Lou Dobbs

EP: Bill Dorman

Bookers: Paris Wald, Leslie Ella-Henry



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