October 29, 1997 in Food

New Business Show Launching On Cnbc

David Bauder Associated Press

Her voice calm and, yes, businesslike, CNBC “Business Center” host Maria Bartiromo is describing what the network wants from its nightly newscast.

“We set out to create the definitive business show on television,” she said. “We did not see a definitive business show on television.”

Ouch! That’s trash-talking in the refined world of high finance, where CNN likes to think its “Moneyline” broadcast with Lou Dobbs has set the agenda for business coverage on television each weeknight for 17 years. (The show airs at 4 p.m., with repeat at 8:30 p.m. on Spokane’s TCI Cable.)

The stakes are indeed high in business’ intriguing new battle. Not only is CNBC going after Dobbs in the same 4 p.m. time slot, the network sees “Business Center” as a much-needed bridge between its financial coverage during the day and the evening news and talk shows.

Executives hope for nothing less than “Business Center” becoming CNBC’s signature show, like ESPN’s “Sportscenter” or A&E; Network’s “Biography” series.

Brash words aside, CNBC honchos say they respect Dobbs. They seem to regard his show, however, as the television version of the aristocracy - dominated by graying white men who don’t seem to mind if much of their talk drifts over the average channel surfer’s head.

“Business Center” is trying to find an audience among people who might not devour the business section of their newspaper every day by 7 a.m.

“We will make a television show about business that is as entertaining as business is,” said Tyler Mathisen, co-host with Bartiromo.

Already dubbed the “Entertainment Tonight” of the business world by critics, it’s a slickly produced program with a special emphasis on personalities and entertainment. An opening day feature on the “bond market” last week was about two Hollywood studios fighting over the rights to James Bond movies.

Mathisen was executive editor of Money magazine, a publication that tries to relate financial news to individual consumers. The hardworking Bartiromo, who will continue hosting CNBC’s “Squawk Box” before the markets open each weekday, is among the most visible journalists working the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

“If you put the two of them together, I think that defines what the program is going to be about,” said Bruno Cohen, CNBC’s senior vice president for business programming.

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