OLD Media Moves

CNBC under new ownership: What does it mean?

January 27, 2010

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson of The Financial Times looks at what might happen to cable news channel CNBC once its parent company NBC is sold to Comcast by General Electric Co.

Edgecliffe-Johnson writes, “Sitting in an office in NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, a short drive from his New Jersey studios, Mark Hoffman, the channel’s president, admits that he is not sure what Comcast control might mean for CNBC, ‘but by all indications they are fans,’ he says.

“Mr Hoffman is reflecting on a complex fifth year in the job. A little over 12 months ago, he was basking in a surge in ratings, brought on by a financial crisis that left a mass audience craving information on market gyrations that affected investment portfolios large and small. Business news became gripping television for non-experts after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. ‘We retained most but not all of the audience we gained,’ Mr Zucker says.

“Don Seaman, director of communications analysis at MPG, the media agency, says CNBC ‘still provides the same high-value resource’ to advertisers in a struggling economy, but the recession has cannibalised the audience it enjoyed at the peak of the crisis. ‘The story that is in their wheelhouse is ubiquitous across all the other higher-rated [general news] networks, so they’re still only delivering their core viewer,’ he says.

“The network will also have to cope with increased competition. Bloomberg, for example, has set out to become ‘the world’s most influential news organisation,’ using profits from its financial data terminals to put a vast network of reporters on screen at relatively little cost, notably in markets outside the US. It has also recruited seasoned news executives to give its financially focused television efforts more mainstream appeal.”

Read more here.

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