Thomas-Graham Out at CNBC

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CNBC chairman Pamela Thomas-Graham is leaving television for the fashion industry, joining Liz Claiborne Inc. as group president, officials said Monday.

Thomas-Graham, 42, will have oversight for the flagship Liz Claiborne business, as well as its Sigrid Olsen, J.H. Collectibles, Emma James, Intuitions and Tapemeasure brands, effective Oct. 10.

For four years, Thomas-Graham served as president and CEO of CNBC, which has struggled to find the right programming formula for financial news, particularly in primetime.

In February, she was moved up to the post of chairman, with NBC Universal bringing in Mark Hoffman, who had been head of NBC’s WVIT in Connecticut, as president of CNBC in an apparent attempt to turn its ratings around.

Prior to joining the cable network, Thomas-Graham was president and CEO of CNBC.com, the channel’s Web site, which is now MSN Money (moneycentral.msn.com/investor/home.asp).

She joined CNBC in 1999 from McKinsey & Co., where she was the management consulting firm’s first black female partner.

In a prepared statement, Thomas-Graham said she worked with several apparel companies when she was at McKinsey.

“While we regret losing Pamela as a colleague, we congratulate her on her new position,” NBCU chairman Bob Wright said in a prepared statement. “As CEO and then chairman of CNBC, Pamela led the network through a most challenging era in business-news reporting. The network has retained its strong profitability, and the CNBC audience continues to be among the wealthiest in all of cable television.”

Nonetheless, CNBC has seen its ratings drop over the past few years, with Wall Street’s go-go days over, the Internet bubble burst and, ofttimes, business news translating to bad -- not good -- news.

This summer, CNBC’s primetime and total-day ratings were a 0.1, flat versus last summer, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

In addition, CNBC will face a challenge from News Corp., which is planning to launch a business-news network.

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