Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fox means Business (?)

News Corp's acquisition of Dow Jones (and consequently the Wall Street Journal) was made in anticipation of the launch of the Fox Business News channel. FBN seems designed to compete head-on with CNBC.

I have mixed feelings about FBN. None of them stem from the leftist paranoia about dominance of the Rupert Murdoch media empire.

On the positive side, it may provide a kick in the pants to CNBC. The content on CNBC is repetitive, and often irrelevant or wrong. I've even heard guests on CNBC criticize the channel for concentrating on market price action rather than analyzing potentially tradeable news and data.

On the negative side, Fox is stealing away talent from CNBC, such as popular Fast Money trader Eric Bolling, and some-time contributor Doug Kass. CNBC has recently realized it is competing on the broader entertainment segment and has enlisted star Jim Cramer and promoted the so-far unique and very popular Fast Money show. But Cramer is getting long in the tooth, and Fast Money has suffered greatly from the loss of Bolling, and is still smarting from the prior loss of Tim Strazzini. Fox's dilution of the space may mean that more hackish personalities fill the void of those relatively more entertaining and informative.

Also negative is the probability that FBN will provide programming that is more similar to CNBC than to Bloomberg. More price-action reporting, more "bulls and bears" talk. If Fox News's Saturday morning business block is any indication, FBN will be worse than CNBC. A recent segment on CNBC's Fast Money recently spent most of the segment making fun of the name of an options trade strategy (the "Iron Butterfly"), and a just a sliver of time actually explaining what it was and why anybody would want to put on that trade. I fear Fox won't even discuss such things at all.

Additionally, the weekends at CNBC are largely filled with infomercials, leading me to question whether there is enough content for another business channel.

There's room for improvement in the business news space, but Fox had better provide a useful information service and would be wise to steer clear of superficial reporting.

No comments: