Rupert Murdoch spoke at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit yesterday, announcing that the Fox News Channel will have a Fox cable business channel competing with CNBC on the air by the fall.
This part of the story was especially made for the WTF? file:
"At a media conference in New York yesterday, Mr. Murdoch said the Fox Business Channel would be “more business friendly than CNBC,” which he said was quick to “leap on every scandal,” according to a report on his remarks by BusinessWeek.com, whose parent, McGraw-Hill, sponsored the conference.
In a separate interview, Mr. Ailes elaborated. “Many times I’ve seen things on CNBC where they are not as friendly to corporations and profits as they should be.”
He added: “We don’t get up every morning thinking business is bad.”
Talk about shooting the messenger: Its not the media that falsified option records, engaged in fraudulent accounting, had corrupt research, stole from investors, or any other of a long laundry list of corrupt, illegal and shareholder-hostile actions. They just reported it.
The biggest complaint about CNBC, especially during the late 1990s, was the tendency to get caught up in the positive momentum and cheerlead a bit.
"Asked whether that meant that Fox would go easy on its reporting of the
type of corporate scandals like Enron and WorldCom that cost individual
investors millions of dollars when those companies collapsed, Mr. Ailes
replied: “We will be as ruthless in our coverage of business scandals
as we have always been.” He said that while thousands of companies have
publicly traded securities, “only 9 or 10 are in trouble” at a given
The question I am curious about: Will this be a journalistic enterprise, with real investigations into significant issues, or will this merely be a stylistic exercise? Will content be an afterthought, as they attempt to be the anti-CNBC?
The most interesting aspect of this competition — at least from a media business perspective — will be the demographics of FBC. Neither the NYT or the WSJ mentioned this. While Fox has long outpaced CNN in total viewers, they have never really captured the more desirable demos; Fox does not charge nearly as much as CNN does for advertising time. Some sources have quoted ad rates at CNN 3X those of Fox (this is unverified).
A major advertising exec I know has said that "Fox viewers are more Chevy buyers than BMWs." Hence, lower ad rates for Fox than CNN. That same demo may dog FBC versus CNBC.
The business channel could be seen as an attempt to go upmarket. CNBC’s viewership is high net worth, extremely coveted by advertisers. Will Fox be able to improve their demos and capture advertisers like Lexus and Mercedes? The answer may very likely depend on how similar or different Fox Business Channel will be to Fox News. I wonder if it will be a real business channel — I picture it as Bloomberg with attitude.
Or, will FBC be like the Fox Saturday Business block, essentially politics wearing a business suit and tie?
There is a lot more to this demographic tale, and I suspect it will make for some great theater over the next 12 months . . .
Also of note: Traders will be glad to know that long missing Alexis Glick will be director of business news for Fox
Business Channel, and I assume, an on-air personality. She was a favorite of many trading desks. Neil Cavuto — a former CNBC anchor and now longtime face of Fox (and a genuinely nice guy) will anchor and oversee content.
My disclosure: I’ve been a guest on numerous shows on both channels, but since becoming a pretty regular guest on Kudlow & Co., I have not done a Fox show in a while . . .
Fox to Begin a ‘More Business Friendly’ News Channel
NYT, February 9, 2007
News Corp. Builds Toward Business TV
WSJ, February 9, 2007; Page B2
Murdoch ready for CNBC fight, ‘Borat’ sequel
Paul R. La Monica
CNNMoney.com, February 8 2007: 6:24 PM EST