As a General Electric (NYSE: GE ) shareholder, I'm somewhat nervous about News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) newest big media venture: the Fox Business Network. It has only one thing on its mind -- like a T-800 hunting down John Connor, it wants to terminate CNBC. And if it can't do that, it'll settle for making off with a big chunk of the channel's current viewers.
If Fox does to CNBC what Fox News has done to Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) CNN, Maria Bartiromo had better watch out. She may be the Money Honey now, but there are others waiting to take her place as a financial icon. It shouldn't surprise anyone that many of the Fox News Channel's market pundits have been tapped as anchors for Fox Business Network, including Dagan McDowell and David Asman.
Personally, I think Fox Business will be enjoy a ton of sampling from curious viewers when it hits the air Oct. 15. (You can bet I'll be there, if my cable system allows it.) I enjoy watching Bulls & Bears, Ben Stein, and the whole gang. In fact, CNBC will really have to watch the competition if the new channel starts producing fast-paced trader-type shows with talents like Tobin Smith and Jonathan Hoenig -- Fast Money will definitely have a few rivals.
But Fox needs to beware its own Achilles' heel -- the network's politics. Fox News has benefited from a decidedly different political bent, and I'd argue that the partisan shows of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity are value-drivers. However, as an avid watcher of Fox News' financial programs, I can tell you that they suffer when the talk turns to politics. Honestly, I tune out when Terry Keenan or Stuart Varney begin talking about Democrats and Republicans. I just want to hear opinions about the markets at large.
I'm a stock junkie, often to my friends' chagrin, and I like that CNBC largely avoids the political swamp. Sure, Larry Kudlow likes to catalyze partisan-based discourse, but I seem to detect a more investing-centric attitude among the channel's management. I record each week's Cost of Freedom, but my fast-forward button gets a workout until the show's pundits start throwing around equity ideas.
Jim Cramer and company should be on their toes when Fox Business arrives, but Rupert Murdoch had better remember to leave the politics at the door. If the company can come up with a snappy, energetic presentation that's purely about stocks -- a model Cramer and Fast Money epitomize -- then CNBC will really need to take notice.
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