CNN Pulls Plug on Financial Network After Nine Years

CNNfn (search), the financial news cable network owned by Time Warner Inc. (TWX), Thursday said it will cease operating by mid-December, giving up its attempt to compete with CNBC (search) after nine years.

The network, launched in 1995, competed for viewers as U.S. interest in the financial markets surged, but it failed to garner wide distribution on the largest U.S. cable operators.

CNNfn is distributed in about 30 million of 100 million U.S. homes. CNBC, owned by General Electric Co.'s (GE) NBC Universal division, is available in about 86 million homes, and 200 million worldwide.

"Exponential growth in the television marketplace since CNNfn's 1995 launch has made it challenging to grow distribution for many niche networks in today's highly competitive landscape," Jim Walton, president of the CNN news group, said in a letter to employees on Thursday.

A handful of programs will be shifted to the main network. CNN also said it is planning changes for its Headline News (search) offshoot, offering prime-time programming instead of a constantly repeating 30-minute newscast.

CNNfn launched in December 1995 when business, and business news, was hot. CNBC's ratings plunged when the Internet bubble burst on Wall Street, and CNNfn failed to gain footing, too.

Management turmoil didn't help: CNNfn's biggest star, Lou Dobbs (search), left in 1999 and then returned in 2001. He'll continue his program on the main network. CNNfn also announced in 2001 that it was changing the network's name to CNN Money, but the idea was dropped after a management change.

The network has recently shifted focus away from Wall Street toward personal finance. Two of its programs -- the real estate series "Open House" and "Dolans Unscripted," a talk show with personal finance experts Ken and Daria Dolan -- will move to the main network.

About 50 of CNNfn's 110 employees will remain at the company. About 60 employees will be offered an opportunity to reapply for other jobs within the CNN news group. Executives said separately, about 100 news jobs will be posted at the CNN group, part of it driven by planned changes at its Headline News channel.

CNNfn retooled its focus in 2003 to appeal to individual investors, ceding the role of breaking business news to CNBC. It began running a stock ticker that was delayed for 20 minutes.

Despite turning its first profit last year, under executive vice president Kenneth Jautz's leadership, competitive pressures never ceased.

Walton said CNN will continue to operate the CNNMoney Web site (

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.