More Heads on the CNBC Chopping Block as Financial Media Landscape Shifts

Oct.28.09 | About: General Electric (GE)

Inertia is a powerful force. The longer we repeat anything, the harder to break the habit. Apparently, the mainstream financial media is having some trouble recognizing that this is their intervention.

If you take time to talk with friends and colleagues about how they got fleeced in 2008, most (if not all — I’m trying to be extra fair) will tell you how the financial media told them everything was fine, don’t sell, don’t panic, buy the dips, etc. Given that most people have jobs which require them to rely on financial professionals for financial advice, we should expect those “experts” to tell their clients the truth. In the law, it’s called “fiduciary duty.”

So, once again, we are not surprised to see people voting with their wallets and attention spans (See “Financial Media Coup d’Etat“). Zero Hedge reports,

Nielsen reported a 50% plunge in CNBC vierwership in October year over year. Specially, CNBC has experienced a massive 52% decline in overall viewers during business day hours (5 am – 7 pm), and a not much better 49% drop in its demo (25-54) in the month of October as compared to last year. Specific shows that are likely to follow the fate of Dennis Kneale’s recently canceled 8pm gobbledygook are likely the Kudlow Report and Mad Money, which are down 59% and 56%, respectively.

My sources at GE tell me there is a lot of drama behind the scenes. More heads are on the chopping block at CNBC. However, I am not sure why it’s become such an issue. Simply provide solid financial journalism, and people will pay attention because their 401(k) will look like it can sustain a retirement. Provide game shows (e.g., Mad Money), skewed perspectives, and a publicity pulpit for private interests, and the results speak for themselves.

Brands are labels. You can put the CNBC brand on entertainment or award-winning journalism. I for one hope the executives at GE and producers at CNBC treat this exciting time like a professional sports off-season: release the overpaid non-producers, bring in the best free agents money can buy, and draft the future stars. That’s meritocracy. That’s capitalism at its finest.