CNN sticking networks with list of tedious requirements to air 2024 presidential debate

CNN is forcing other television networks and outlets to agree to a list of tedious requirements in exchange for the ability to air the first 2024 presidential debate, sources told The Los Angeles Times.

Despite becoming the first TV network in history to secure the exclusive rights to air a general election debate, CNN is opting to allow other networks the ability to simulcast the June 27 face-off between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. 

The network, however, has cobbled together a rather finicky list of conditions for what rival networks and other outlets like Fox News and MSNBC are allowed to do in exchange for the rights to the debate feed, sources told the paper. 

CNN has foisted a list requirements on networks and outlets looking to air the June 27 presidential debate. Ron Haviv/VII/Redux

Among the requirements is that all networks must display CNN’s on-screen logo through the simulcast.

Other networks can flaunt their own graphics during the debate, which will be moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, but the cable network’s logo must be clearly visible during the event. 

CNN also is policing other outlets’ language about the debate, requiring them to refer to the June showdown as the “CNN Presidential Debate.”

Any on-air promotions or ads for the telecast must refer to it as “CNN Presidential Debate Simulcast” while program guides and TV listings must call the event “Simulcast: CNN Presidential Debate.”

In another presidential debate first, the cable network will include a pair of commercial breaks during the 90-minute event, each three-and-a-half minutes long.

Among the demands is that networks must display CNN’s logo throughout the simulcast. REUTERS

Other outlets running the simulcast can opt to use their own commercials instead of those sold by CNN, but having their own anchors or commentators opine during the breaks — or at any point during the event — is verboten. 

Network executives told The Times they are pushing back on the requirements, and some may opt not to air promos for the simulcast if they have to utter CNN’s name every time. 

The struggling cable news network has been plagued in recent years by rotating executives, budget cuts, and plummeting ratings.

This is the first time a TV network in history has secured the exclusive rights to air a presidential debate. Ron Haviv/VII/Redux

The first presidential debate between the same two candidates in 2020 brought in 73 million viewers, and CNN is likely looking to capitalize on the event and beef up its brand, including displaying its red logo behind the debate stage, instead of the Constitution, as has been tradition.

A CNN representative told the outlet the requirements are being requested in exchange for the network covering all of the debate’s production costs.

“CNN is unilaterally producing this debate, and that requires transparency with viewers and a substantial investment of resources,” the representative said.