TV's Fox Business Network goes live tomorrow

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Tycoons and couch potatoes who can't get enough business news will have yet another TV option starting tomorrow when News Corp. kicks off its all-business cable news channel.

The Fox Business Network will compete head-on with the reigning heavyweight of 24-hour business news, CNBC, as well as Bloomberg Television.

Backed by the deep pockets of billionaire Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., the spinoff of Fox News Channel will have an expected initial audience of 30 million people when it hits the airwaves.

FBN will be shown to DirecTV subscribers on Channel 359 and will air in HDTV. Comcast hopes to offer the channel in Pittsburgh by the end of the year, said publicist Jody Doherty.

Although Fox representatives declined to comment for this article, Mr. Murdoch has said in previous reports that the new channel would be geared for "Main Street" rather than what he called CNBC's "Wall Street" focus.

"Personally and professionally, I'm very interested in watching it," said Carrie Coghill-Kuntz, president of DB Root & Co, Downtown. "CNBC focuses too much on short-term trading, and the majority of investors are long-term investors."

Mark Hoffman, president of CNBC, said the network was making no specific preparation's for FBN's launch, but said he didn't take any competition lightly. He's proud of CNBC's past and confident about its future.

"We're focused on investors," Mr. Hoffman said. "At our center, we're an investor network and we try to frame that coverage with the biggest financial news of the day."

He said CNBC reaches 390 million household subscribers worldwide and about 90 million in the United States (not counting hotels). The network produces 140 live hours of TV around the world and interviews 850 people each week.

"We bring our 'A game' everyday and have been for years," Mr. Hoffman said.

American TV watchers will now have the widest array of television financial news outlets in history, with three 24-hour networks competing to cover financial events in an ever-changing world. Bloomberg TV representatives could not be reached for comment.

Although the networks never sleep, there is not always a constant flow of new business events, meaning that the level of repetition in the 24-hour news cycle at times can be frustrating.

FBN will bring in five anchors from the Fox News Channel business team and has announced that syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey will have a prime-time television show on the network.

Paul Brahim, executive vice president of BPU Investment Management, Downtown, said he would be interested in seeing how Fox might put a conservative spin on issues such as the economy, the stock market and sky-high CEO compensation.

"As an adviser, I wish they would all go off the air because they focus so much on what's happening right now, today, that they send the wrong message to investors," Mr. Brahim said. "They have a tendency to focus on short-term results and headline issues rather than long-term trends."

P.J. DiNuzzo, president of DiNuzzo Investment Advisors in Beaver, said he was hoping that FBN would be more business-friendly than CNBC. He said he would start off by splitting his time evenly between both stations and see how it pans out after a couple of months.

"A lot of individuals look to financial news stations for help on how to manage their money, and I can see where they would get frustrated with CNBC's short-term focus.

"People want to know about their 401(k)s and their IRAs, and I believe that's the gap that Fox will try to fill."


Tim Grant can be reached at tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591.


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