CNN to Reuters: buh-bye

August 30, 2007

CNN's Larry KingCNN is ending its 27-year agreement to use Reuters news, video and pictures, the companies said on Thursday.

Any relationship that lasts almost three decades is tough to unwind. Here’s how they plan to do it.

(Excerpts from the memo to CNN employees from Editorial Director Richard Griffiths)

So, what does that mean for those of us producing newscasts or posting web content?

It means that, effective 6am ET, Thursday, we must take down all Reuters content from As of 6am, it means that we can no longer use material from Reuters video/audio feeds on any of the CNN TV or radio networks.

What about Reuters file video in our archive or Reuters material in existing packages?

We can no longer use file video from Reuters, even if it is stored in our archive. Existing packages with Reuters material must be re-edited before they can air. (There are a very few exceptions where fair use might be claimed, but only with prior clearance from one of the CNN content lawyers.) New packages cannot use any Reuters material.

Does that mean we’ll have to screen all our obits and potentially re-edit them before air?


Will the library purge all the Reuters video material from the archive?

No. Reuters material is woven into thousands of packages, airchecks, and PA reels. It would be almost impossible to remove all that content. This means that we must be especially vigilant about checking the source of all video from the archive before use so Reuters material does not get onto the air.

Sometimes Reuters gets scoops. Does this mean we can’t report Reuters breaking news?

No, we can still report Reuters scoops, just as we report scoops by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other reputable news organizations: We will attribute carefully and simultaneously work to confirm and report the story ourselves.

Because we will no longer have direct access to the Reuters wire in iNews, we will only be able to see the Reuters reporting on Therefore, we should attribute to when we decide a Reuters story is important enough to report.

How will CNN get all those stories that Reuters moves every day?

CNN will be making a major investment to expand our newsgathering operation. The investment will significantly strengthen CNN and help us generate even more original content for all our platforms. And as you know, these days, original content truly is king. But it will take a little time to get all our systems in place and up-and-running; your smart-thinking, hard work and attention to detail over the next few weeks will be critical to our success as we move forward.

Here’s what the Guardian reported:

[CNN] will retain its other long-term agreements with the news agencies APTN and AP while its affiliate deal with ITN and around 1,000 other broadcasters around the world also remains unchanged.

And Henry Blodget at Silicon Alley Insider:

Okay, but given that CNN will reportedly continue to use Associated Press content, we can probably amend Nigel’s explanation to read: “Reuters refused to budge when we told them to cut prices, so we told them to stuff it. Will they come back? Who knows? Who cares? For now, we’ll make do with the cheaper AP. Those wire services all cover the same crap anyway.”

(Photo: Reuters / CNN’s Larry King)

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