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@ Media Summit: CNN’s Klein: Fox News Isn’t Our Biggest Competitor — Facebook is

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It’s the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Media Summit now, but the two-day conference is still at the McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) Building. CNN President Jon Klein led off in a Q&A with Bloomberg BW Editor Josh Tyrangiel, talking about the magic — and often illusory — word “synergy.” Klein talked about the ties that the Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) cable news network can work with increase its traffic through, and there are even ties with HBO, which has aired documentaries from host (and Newsweek International Editor) Fareed Zakaria. “A huge reason we’ve doubled our profit over the last four years is because we’ve collaborated with affiliates all over the world.” CNN U.S. will be a primary source of its online video, since some stories that might not work on the cable net could get traction online. But that doesn’t mean that the cable net will be heavy handed in determining what material the site should use. “We’re not force feeding, it’s not creating foie gras and we’re getting better at learning to manage the differences between the cable side and the online side.”

Friends and competitors: In a conversation about the competition, Tyrangiel asked Klein about the competition against Fox News. Klein rattled off figures that he claimed to show CNN has 10 percent more viewers than Fox News, though he conceded that Fox News viewers tend to watch longer than CNN viewers do. “The competition I’m really afraid of is social nets. We want to be the most trusted source. But on Facebook, people are depending on their friends as news sources. I’m more worried about the 500 million or so people on Facebook versus the 2 million on Fox.” In terms of the cable news wars, though, Klein also pointed out that CNN has just come off its most profitable year.

Better umbrella: Looking at the cable news landscape, Tyrangiel wondered whether a non-partisan outlet, like CNN positions itself to be, can make it in this polarized atmosphere. Tyrangiel likened the business of 24-hour cable news to running an umbrella store. “You either have to sell the best umbrellas or you have to convince people it’s always raining,” he said to Klein, who responded that he believes CNN can attract the multitudes who want straight news. “The other guys can have the fringes.”