In Depth: FBN’s Incredibly Shrinking Business News Coverage…
Last Friday ICN broke the news that FBN would be canceling several programs including Fox Business Morning; the latter being replaced by a Best of Imus hour. Part of me was hoping my sources were wrong. They weren’t. My DVR showed the Best of Imus when I played FBN’s 5am ET hour on my DVR this morning.
I would imagine the reason for the cancellation of Fox Business Morning boils down to ratings, as most of cancellations do. We can’t tell of course because FBN continues to hide behind that “we’re not officially rated by Nielsen” sieve of theirs – it’s a sieve and not a shield because ratings occasionally drip out when the network…or its competition…wants to try and emphasize a point – but it seems the likely reason.
What is more telling however is the decision to cancel the show outright and replace it with tape rather than change the format or the hosts. Apparently tinkering was not an option. When Imus came on board FBN ceded 6-9am to CNBC and Bloomberg for business news coverage; FBN’s cut-ins and internet broadcasts non-withstanding. But it still had 5-6am for business coverage of pre market open news. Now that’s gone too. CNBC and Bloomberg now essentially own the pre-market open news cycle.
It is a striking contradiction in approaches; FBN’s capitulation on pre market open coverage and FBN’s continued drive to boost its business journalism bonafides by hiring more name brands like Charlie Gasparino to boost its roster. It sends mixed messages to its viewers as the branding gets more murky and FBN’s identity gets more schizoid.
MSNBC has for years been the butt of jokes on the weekends because it has inadvertently cultivated the reputation as the network which only covers news until noon. FBN now risks receiving similar ridicule as the business network that mostly covers business news when the US markets are active. For all of CNBC US’s faults in abandoning prime time and weekends to tape while its international siblings continue to cover the markets – watching CNBC World from Palau for two weeks was a real eye opener for me vis a vis how much CNBC US is not covering – CNBC US (and Bloomberg) still covers business news more of the time than FBN does.
The whole reason FBN was launched in the first place was to be an alternative to CNBC based on the premise that CNBC had lost its way in how it covers business news and was out of touch. Covering business news less often would seem to me to not be the solution however and it appears more and more like FBN is the network that is losing its way in how it covers business news. And it makes me want to revisit the question of why Alexis Glick, who wasn’t just an anchor but the Director of Business News, was let go.