Home Airports Why Is CNN Played On TV Screens At So Many U.S. Airports?

Why Is CNN Played On TV Screens At So Many U.S. Airports?

by SharonKurheg

Cable News Network (CNN) is owned by WarnerMedia. It was founded in 1980 by U.S. media mogul Ted Turner as a 24-hour cable news channel and was the first TV station to provide 24-hour news coverage. CNN is currently in over 90 million U.S. homes.

Meanwhile, if you go to about 60 major airports in the U.S., chances are good that CNN will be playing on the TV in the gate and boarding areas.

So, what’s up with that?

Welp, it turns out that CNN Airport is a spin-off of CNN and is only shown in (wait for it…) airports ;-). After a test launch at DFW, ATL and ORD in mid-1991, it debuted in early 1992.



Headquartered in Atlanta, CNN Airport Network pays to be broadcast in nearly 60 airports in North America. It’s shown at 2,400+ gates and reaches roughly 323 million travelers per year. CNN Airport alternates between live CNN and HLN news programming and it also airs additional topics. Its content mix is:

  • 48% Lifestyle & Entertainment
  • 16% Live CNN
  • 17% Business Headlines
  • 19% Sports
  • 10% local inserts from airports, as needed
  • Emergency messaging is also available as needed

CNN Airport broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with around-the-clock technical and editorial staffing. Because it broadcasts in public waiting areas, CNN Airport is more family-friendly than regular CNN. For example, CNN Airport screens out material that’s sexually explicit or portrays graphic violence. For security and safety reasons, the channel also won’t report on airline crashes or other similar commercial aviation incidents.

Here’s the schedule (most recent available is 2019, current as of this writing):

Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 9.19.52 PM.png

Click here for a PDF of the schedule.

Because CNN the cable TV station tends to be more left-wing when it comes to political stories, those who prefer more right-wing politics have often expressed a wish to get other TV channels to be played at airports. There are other startup TV stations grabbing some of this niche market, including ReachTV (previously known as ReachMeTV), but so far, to date, CNN is still the most popular and well-known.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



JS August 2, 2020 - 7:17 pm

I watch CNN because it’s the more moderate of the three cable networks. Fox is far right and MSNBC is far left. It makes sense that CNN is shown in airports, where everyone can enjoy it, too.

SharonKurheg August 2, 2020 - 7:25 pm

I agree that CNN is more moderate but it’s certainly still left-leaning. As someone who also leans left, I don’t mind. But I have some right-leaning friends who wish a different channel was there. It’s a moot point; it is what it is. If nothing else, the airport version of CNN is closer to center than the regular cable version 🙂

Christian August 2, 2020 - 9:47 pm

There’s no politics listed and half the schedule is in the entertainment category. Given that CNN is already pretty close to the political center, a version without politics seems about as innocuous as you can get.

AlohaDaveKennedy August 3, 2020 - 11:15 am

CNN is as close to center as Portland is close to hosting a Republican convention.

SharonKurheg August 3, 2020 - 12:27 pm

Agreed. However the airport version of CNN is closer to center than the regular cable version

stogieguy7 August 3, 2020 - 9:45 am

#JS: CNN used to be “more moderate”; however, they left that position behind when Jeff Zucker took over a few years back. At this point they are as far left as MSNBC (who is honest about it).

On a different note, CNN Airport has long been (in)famous for strictly avoiding negative aviation news. If there’s wall to wall coverage of a crash on regular CNN, CNN Airport will show reruns of old interviews or something.

Daniel August 2, 2020 - 7:39 pm

They show live NFL football. It’s a good choice to watch at the gate.

Fathiss August 2, 2020 - 7:46 pm

I’m tired of all news stations. They’re all biased. FOX is the only right channel and all others are left including ABC, NBC, and CBS news. CNN is definitely left.
The world loves the left because they are more pro international than right.
All the news may not be fake, but it is so one sided it gives the appearance. All are guilty.

DaninMCI August 3, 2020 - 7:16 am

It’s really too bad that CNN headline news is a shell of it’s former self. The CNN main channel or even the airport version is much more left biased than the old HLN channel. It was still left leaning much like the BBC but was decent middle ground. It’s hard to impossible to just get “news” these days without spin or commentary. Just ask The Weather Channel. Sad. Frankly I could do without the TV’s at the gates. When they have the sound on its even worse.


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