The launch two weeks ago of the Fox Business Network by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has lifted, not hurt, the ratings of the CNBC financial news channel, according to Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal.
The new Fox network, which debuted Oct. 15, has had “no impact” on the NBC network’s viewership, he said Monday morning in a conversation in midtown Manhattan with New Yorker journalist Ken Auletta. The conversation was sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
While not citing any statistics, Zucker said CNBC’s ratings have gone up during the period. Zucker said the network "could not have bought" the kind of publicity that the advent of the rival business news network, led by one-time CNBC head Roger Ailes, has generated.
“We are doing two different things,’’ Zucker said. CNBC, he said, remains focused on serving serious financially minded investors with its coverage of markets and economics.
Fox is doing, he said, “something lighter and not as investor-focused”
“You have to give them credit for getting on the air,’’ he said. That is no mean feat, at present when cable and satellite operators are faced with intense competition for space on their channel lineups, with analog, digital and HD channels all looking for carriage, and funding of startup channels hard to come by.
Fox Business Network is backed by one of the largest media companies, extant: News Corp. And Ailes a decade ago led the creation of Fox News Channel, which overtook CNN as the most-watched 24-hour news service on cable and satellite.
Fox News representatives dismissed Zucker's comments Monday. “We feel sorry for Jeff -- he doesn’t recognize success because it’s been a while since he had any," a spokesperson said in a statement.