Time Not on FNC’s Side

By Chris Ariens 

In his Tuned In column in next week’s issue of Time, James Poniewozik takes a look at the cable news landscape, with an eye on Fox News Channel. He asks, “How will the signature news channel of the Bush era steer clear of becoming a lame duck?” Poniewozik writes, “Fox is still the top-rated news channel,” but adds “there are signs it’s plateauing.”

I get a sense that the haven for conservative hosts, and viewers alienated by liberal news, needs to figure out its next act. At times recently, the network has appeared uncertain about its focus. Its primary-night coverage has felt staid and listless.

Maybe even more galling, the network has lately faded in the ephemeral category of buzz. MSNBC – with far fewer viewers – has been the political-media obsession of the 2008 primary, largely because of feuds between the Clinton campaign and the network for its perceived pro-Obama bias. Ratings shmatings: if a Rupert Murdoch network cannot dominate the field of ticking off the Clintons, that has to sting.

Fox News will have one important asset: its loyal viewer base. The viewers are Fox’s to keep. It just has to figure out what’s going to make them mad starting in 2009.

Poniewozik does, parenthetically, make note that Fox News competitor “(CNN and Time are owned by Time Warner.)”

Click here to read the column…

(Illustration by Francisco Caceres for Time)