Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, February 18, 2021

While it’s not due to debut until late 2007, the new Fox Business Channel already is being positioned by News Corp. as the un-CNBC:

Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive for Fox News, told The New York Times that he’d often seen things on CNBC where they aren’t as friendly to corporations and profits as they should be.

“We don’t get up every morning thinking business is bad,” Ailes said.

Substitute “America” for “business” in that quote and you’d swear it was 1996 again, and Ailes was needling CNN.

The tactic worked for Fox News Channel. Worked brilliantly. Many people doubted the network was even necessary yet it charged past the industry pioneer within six years and hasn’t been caught since. Now many are questioning whether Fox Business Channel can compete against CNBC.

It’s a smart way to maneuver for mindshare: Set up the raison d’etre early, so as to deflect the “why bother” arguments. As long as the message is delivered consistently, it doesn’t matter much if it’s true or not. By the time FBC comes on the air, it’ll be guaranteed a big initial audience just on curiosity value alone. Drawing eyeballs is the biggest part of the battle; from there, it’s relatively easy pickings to retain viewers.

The tactics are working great, since CNBC spokespeople are already characterizing Fox’s rhetoric as “propaganda” — a charged term that, in the American context, suggests a liberal-conservative divide. Of course Fox is engaging in propaganda, in that any advertising/marketing campaign is, by definition, a form of propaganda. But brandishing it like this only makes CNBC look like it’s on an irrational attack, and automatically elicits sympathy for the other side.

Despite the precedent with CNN, it seems that CNBC is already being drawn into an arena of argument where it’s not in control, and thus is already on the defensive. More broadly, this seems like a typical response from the General Electric/NBC hierarchy these days: Herky-jerky and reactive, almost consigned to play catchup.

Therefore, I give FBC a real good chance at, minimally, early success. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it usurp CNBC within a few years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/18/2007 11:30:11 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV, Business
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