Times: CBS in Talks to Outsource Newsgathering Operations to CNN

So now we know what Matt Drudge was talking about: Tim Arango at the Times is reporting that CBS “has been in discussions with Time Warner about a deal to outsource some of its newsgathering operations to CNN,” a report sourced to “two executives briefed on the matter.”

This is something CNN has talked about with other networks in the past, Mr. Arango points out in the article, but the talks with CBS have been “revived and lately intensified.”

Though Matt Drudge, jumping the Times report, pictured a tearful Katie Couric above his headline, it appears from the Arango piece that Katie Couric and other “frontline personalities” would remain the stars of the network coverage, and that these talks are largely about using CNN correspondents.

CBS has been troubled lately, with its bet on Katie Couric as the anchor for its historically important CBS Evening News program appearing not to pay off; it has fewer than half the viewers the show had in 2006. And in the morning, CBS has always been No. 3.

Writes Arango:

CNN and CBS have had a long flirtation, and there is no guarantee that this latest round of talks will be any more fruitful. In 1998, it emerged publicly that the two sides were talking about an extensive joint venture, and later, in 2002, CNN was close to reaching a deal with ABC News, but those talks eventually broke down over control issues.

We’ll be on top of it.