CNN EXEC: Journalism's future depends on mobile reception

A woman watches an election broadcast on November 9, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

The news industry is in existential strife with no one yet able to work out a sustainable long-term financial model in the internet age.

But a CNN executive has revealed that his company’s welfare is “inextricably intertwined” with telecommunications companies.

“Our fates are tied,” said CNN chief product officer Alex Wellen at the Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Tokyo. “Our mission is to be the worldwide leader in mobile and video news and information, bar none. That’s our goal.

“And the only way we can do that is with deep, deep collaboration with mobile operators. It can’t happen any other way.”

Citing that CNN digitally delivered, at its peak, 2.3 million concurrent video streams during this month’s US election, Wellen said that customers don’t care that CNN produced the news and another company delivered the viewing bandwidth on their mobile.

“We need your help, more than ever, on video,” he said to the audience of telco experts. “Delivering live video and removing the friction, increasing the quality, minimising the latency, optimising the experience — that is the user experience,”

“Our storytelling is only as good as the delivery… Your delivery is part of the storytelling.”

Wellen made the plea in the midst of a forum that heard much hype over 5G mobile networks, which will be fast enough to smoothly stream 4K video and enable a new generation of mobile apps that use huge quantities of data. All three major telcos in Australia — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — are currently trialling 5G technology.

The journalist travelled to the Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Tokyo as a guest of Huawei.

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