For years it was derided by the broadcast establishment as the "Chicken Noodle Network." But today, CNN, the 24-hours news network launched by Ted Turner in 1980, is the model everybody is straining to mimic, not to mock.
With the start of December has come a rush of pronouncements of plans to challenge CNN in around-the-clock news. Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns the Fox Network here, started it with an almost off-hand comment at a conference in Boston that he intended launching his own cable news service, which, he said, would have a more conservative outlook than CNN.
Next to break cover was ABC, which proclaimed at a New York press conference that it, too, wanted to take on the CNN franchise and its service would be launched in 1997. Then came NBC, which said it had sketched plans for a cable news operation in January.
The NBC proposal has since been tied to the Microsoft Corporation. NBC, a subsidiary of General Electric, has acknowledged it is in talks with Microsoft about possible colla- boration. It is widely believed Microsoft is considering becoming a 50- per cent partner in NBC's 24-hour news service, which it would make available to personal computer users by way of new cable modem technology due nexy year.
How many CNN clones could compete and survive is an open question.
"Everyone knows there is room for more than one CNN, but nobody knows how many more," said Peter Herford, a professor of journalism at Columbia University in New York.