The Consumer News and Business Channel, or CNBC is a channel for business news owned by NBC Universal, a subsidiary of General Electric, and broadcast over satellite and cable which first aired in the late 1980s. The launch of the network was of historical significance to the television industry, insofar as it was the first network launch on cable not owned by a major cable operator, (Carter, 1989) such as the Turner-owned CNN, and its direct competitor for ratings the older Financial News Network, a California-based non-cable news channel covering similar ground as CNBC.
However, not long after the FNN experienced a major scandal in accounting and auditing, CNBC purchased and assimilated the network, significantly increasing its broadcast share. (Associated Press, 1991) Since then, the brand has expanded into Asian and European markets and has grown to become one of the most expansive news outlets for business news and financial reportage.
At present, CNBC’s programming includes documentaries, investigative reporting, infomercials as well as some non news content in the form of game shows. Like most, business channels, it sports a rolling ticker at the bottom of the screen to provide viewers with real-time updates on stock exchanges, news summaries and weather updates. Some of the programs include Mad Money, a fast-paced stock advice show involving prop-based humor; an international business affairs program known as Worldwide Exchange and Power Lunch, a trend-watching program which focuses on people and events in business.
Currently, CNBC emphasizes a more personality oriented approach to reportage, as epitomized by the popular host of Closing Bell, Maria Bartiromo, who is a regular personality of stock market related programming recognized for her striking looks, as well as the attention-grabbing theatrics of Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, both of whom are used for coverage outside of their respective programs.
However, in 2007, CNBC has come to recognize another competitor in the field of business news: The Fox Business Network, a spin-off of Fox News Channel, which has staked its reputation on personality-based news reporting as well. As such, News Corp., Fox’s parent company seeks to repeat its success with the Fox News Channel but within the broadcast territory of CNBC. The question remains whether CNBC can assert itself in the face of the increasing brand cache of Fox in current affairs programming.
Carter, B. (1989, April 10) “NBC Walks Into A Cable Minefield.” The New York Times.
The Associated Press (1991, May 26) “Purchase of FNN Boosts NBC’s Cable-Market Share.” The Seattle Times.
Garofoli, J. (2007, October 14) “Fox Business Network gets ready to battle CNBC.” The San Francisco Chronicle.