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CNN Elevates Ryan to Key Post

February 20, 2002|ELIZABETH JENSEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — The process of revamping CNN continues, as Teya Ryan, who oversaw the successful summer revamp of the CNN Headline News channel, was named executive vice president and general manager of CNN's flagship U.S. channel Tuesday.

Ryan replaces Sid Bedingfield, a 16-year CNN veteran who became executive editor, CNN News Group, serving as deputy on editorial matters to CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson.

The shift comes as CNN, a unit of AOL Time Warner, faces a stiff ratings challenge from News Corp.'s Fox News Channel, which passed CNN in January, among the all-news networks. Ryan said her initial focus at CNN will be shaping a new show anchored by Connie Chung, who is joining CNN from ABC News. She declined to be specific about additional changes but said that overall CNN is "on the right road. We just have to keep pushing.... We'll be looking at all the other programs. How we shape the news, how creative can we be, how bold can we be."

At Headline News, Ryan added more information to the screen and substantially quickened the pace, which some critics found dizzying, just as they questioned the hiring of former "NYPD Blue" star Andrea Thompson as an anchor.

Still, the ratings rose even before the war on terror lifted most news viewing, and the changes have attracted younger viewers, who are an often elusive target for TV news. "People speak with their remotes, and they like what we're doing," Ryan said, adding that CNN and Headline News are "very, very distinct services, and they will remain distinct."

CNN has already been through a year of intense change, with the departure of several on-air personalities, the return of Lou Dobbs to the financial show "Moneyline" and the addition of signature programs, including a morning show anchored by Paula Zahn and an evening program from Aaron Brown. Another key program anchored by Jeff Greenfield was just canceled for lack of ratings, with Greenfield signing off Friday.

Rolando H. Santos, the president of CNN's Spanish-language channel, CNN en Espanol, will replace Ryan at Headline News.

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