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KAI RYSSDAL: Mark Monday on your calendars, everybody. There’s a huge media event you’re not going to want to miss: Another way to get the business news of the day — besides us, of course… Fox News will be launching a business channel.
We’ve got Los Angeles Times media writer Tim Rutten here to help us understand what it’s all about. Tim, before we get started, there’s a piece of tape I want to play for you:
SOUND: [Fox Business Network advertisement]
RYSSDAL: Well, Tim Rutten, you heard that little piece of sound from Fox Business Network there — what is going on in the world of television business news?
TIM RUTTEN: Well, what’s happening is, you may have thought the world needs another financial news network the way it needs another bull-riding channel. But Rupert Murdoch is going to give you one — and it’s not quite like any business news you’ve ever seen, because if your listeners go to the FoxBusiness.com Web site and take a look at this thing for themselves, what they’re going to see is an awful lot of extremely attractive young women.
RYSSDAL: Don’t we already have a television business network that, frankly, is doing pretty well for itself — CNBC?
RUTTEN: Right. And here’s where this story gets interesting, Kai… I’ll throw you a question: What is the most-watched financial news program on American television?
RYSSDAL: Uh, I don’t know…
RUTTEN: Wouldn’t you think it would be, say, the Closing Bell, on CNBC?
RYSSDAL: Yeah, but I figured that’d be too easy, so I opted for “none of the above.”
RUTTEN: Or Squawkbox, maybe? The morning show where you get to see the futures and how irrelevant they are to everything? You know what it is? It’s the staid old Nightly Business Report on PBS, on public broadcasting… Yes it is. And remember, the most-watched show on cable news today is Bill O’Reilly. And at any given moment in his broadcast, Bill O’Reilly’s largest audience is around a million viewers — this is a relatively small universe of viewers, but a highly lucrative one for advertisers.
RYSSDAL: The guy who gets the credit for this — or, if it doesn’t work out so well, will get the blame — is a guy named Roger Ailes. Remind us of who that is.
RUTTEN: Roger Ailes is the guy who created Fox News for Rupert Murdoch. Roger Ailes’ singular genius was to realize that the relatively small audience that watches cable news was really interested in news as a kind of buttress for its opinions. Roger Ailes gave an extended interview to the Wall Street Journal earlier this week — I think we can already see the Murdoch presence in the Journal… The deal there isn’t closed —
RYSSDAL: But his business channel guys in the pages of the paper.
RUTTEN: Well, not only that, but Fox News has replaced CNN on the televisions in the lobby of the Journal building in the Dow Jones building. But, this interview… I took the trouble of going to read the entire transcript of the interview. And what’s fascinating about this is, Fox has positioned itself as the conservative antipode to the purportedly liberal CNN. And Ailes is trying to do exactly the same thing with this network. This network is going to be pro-business, as opposed to CNBC, which he says is anti-business.
RYSSDAL: Yeah, but if you’ve ever watched CNBC — and I’m sure you have, as a lot of people listening probably have — it’s not like they’re anti-business… I mean, come on.
RUTTEN: This is the network of Larry Kudlow, for God sake… It’s also anti-capitalist, according to Ailes — that the only time the CNBC people believe in capitalism is when they go to negotiate their contracts. Look, with all respect to the people on CNBC, if they boosted the stock market any more they’d all be on retainer to the brokerage houses. The question is, will this play? Can he create an ideological basis for people to choose Fox Business over CNBC?
RYSSDAL: Tim Rutten writes the Regarding Media column for the Los Angeles Times… Thanks, Tim.
RUTTEN: My pleasure.