CNBC on a Fox Hunt

It's a new day in financial media reporting -- News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) rolled out its Fox Business Network this morning. The new business channel aims to take on General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) CNBC, though with cable deals currently in place for just 30 million homes, its reach is just a third of CNBC's wingspan.

You may already have a bias, based on how you feel about Fox News. Whether you love or loathe Fox for its conservative-leaning news reporting, that will likely reflect on your disposition to FBN before it even airs in your market. (Many of the Fox Business anchors hail from its Fox News counterpart.)

That's not a bad thing for News Corp. Being a polarizing force is an advantage when you're an upstart going up against a giant.

Plenty is at stake. Financial broadcasters tend to draw an affluent audience. This makes them an easy sponsorship sell for luxury automakers, brokers, and other financial-service providers.

My selfish wish is that Fox doesn't cannibalize CNBC's audience. Rather, I hope that FBN serves as an ambassadorial tool to broaden the pool of potential market-savvy consumers. Wouldn't that be the ideal scenario?

When the news is ripe with folks who can't balance their checkbooks, or who are facing foreclosure on their homes because they didn't understand the resetting basics of an adjustable-rate mortgage, who can argue against a thicker canvas of financial education?

If financial reporting does become mainstream, I won't mind having to watch a string of ads pitching beverages, value-priced cars, and upcoming movies. It can get old to watch a Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW  ) ad follow an E*Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC  ) spot.

So even if FBN proves to be a polarizing silver medalist, it will be a winner if it can shoehorn more of the country into embracing financial education and enlightenment.

Today's new cable channel coincides with the launch of FoxBusiness.com. These are certainly exciting times for financial websites. Whether it's Dow Jones (NYSE: DJ  ) pondering the move to make its Barron's and WSJ.com websites free, or the emergence of spruced-up financial portals at Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , the financial world is growing.

Let's see if CNBC can hunt for Fox without hitting the other hunters along the way.


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