The dust finally settled on the cable-TV business-news wars
last week, as Cable News Network selected longtime CNN veteran Stuart Varney and Willow
Bay, a co-host on the network's NewsStand: CNN & Fortune, as the new co-anchors
of Moneyline News Hour, effective July 19.
The duo face the task of trying to fill the sizable shoes
of ex-anchor Lou Dobbs, who bolted a few weeks ago for an Internet start-up called
Bay, for one, begged to differ. "I'm not trying to
fill Lou Dobbs' shoes," she declared. "We're going to try to improve upon the
considerable strengths that Moneyline brings to CNN."
CNN News Group vice chairman and chief operating officer
Steve Korn said the co-anchor approach would allow the show flexibility. "We'll
always be able to have one of our co-anchors on set holding down the fort, which frees up
the other one to go off and do special assignments," he added.
"Who better than Stuart Varney? He knows this area of
news coverage as well as or better than anyone," Korn said.
Varney had been with the network since its inception in
1980 before leaving last year to go off on the lecture circuit, which he will give up for
his new post. He had been an anchor for a variety of the network's business-news coverage.
"I've been in America for 25 years. I can't remember
the American economy performing as well as it has been," Varney said. "One-half
of American households now invest in stocks and bonds. That's never happened."
As for the decision to pair Varney with Bay, "Willow
was a great choice. She has a great work ethic, she is smart and she gets along well with
the people she works with," Korn said.
Korn also pointed to Bay's network-news background, which
includes a stint as a correspondent on ABC's World News Tonight. Bay will continue
her duties on NewsStand while she assumes her new role at Moneyline.
In the battle of the co-ed co-anchors, Varney and Bay are
now poised to stave off CNBC's new co-anchor team of Ron Insana and Sue Herera on Business
Center,which competes directly against Moneyline from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30
After Dobbs' abrupt departure, CNBC made a strategic move
to take share away from Moneyline by expanding to one hour and replacing Maria
Bartiromo with Insana and Herera.
"They've replaced one big brand name with two big
brand names," said Mark Stewart, executive vice president and media director, North
America, for McCann-Erickson WorldGroup.
"They bring a mix of business coverage and general
appeal to the show," Stewart added. "It looks like they're not just trying to
replace Lou Dobbs -- they're trying to broaden the show's appeal."