Media Profile: Bullard does the business - Peter Bullard, director, CNBC

Most cable and satellite news channels like to talk in terms of the number of homes they have connected. CNBC’s station director Peter Bullard, on the other hand, talks in terms of businesses. Last week, on the business news channel’s first birthday, he received subscriptions from Goldman Sachs and the Bank of America for CNBC on to screens in their share dealing rooms.

Most cable and satellite news channels like to talk in terms of the

number of homes they have connected. CNBC’s station director Peter

Bullard, on the other hand, talks in terms of businesses. Last week, on

the business news channel’s first birthday, he received subscriptions

from Goldman Sachs and the Bank of America for CNBC on to screens in

their share dealing rooms.



But Bullard is not a conventional television channel director. He came

to the post without a traditional journalistic background, having spent

most of his career in sales and marketing. He was appointed CNBC

director after two years as its director of advertising sales.



’I know that raises a few eyebrows,’ he says. ’When I took over I hadn’t

realised quite how hard it was to set a channel’s editorial agenda. You

see the story go out on screen and you assume it all kind of falls

together, but when you find you have to decide on the team’s approach,

it becomes quite daunting,’ he says.



’I still have a lot to learn, but I also think my marketing background

means I can spot all the advantages from covering, say, a global event

such as the world economic forum in Davos.’



Bullard believes that the channel’s approach to Davos proves his

point.



Davos attracts the world’s business and political leaders and, while

other news channels were content to take a feed from Swiss television,

CNBC had a full crew there. Subsequently, Bill Gates’ speech was

broadcast live on CNBC and reported by everyone else.



’I was able to see the editorial, advertising and PR opportunities in

that, while a conventional editor wouldn’t necessarily have thought

beyond the pure editorial aspects of the story,’ says Bullard.



With the proliferation of satellite news channels, CNBC - with its

strictly business content - has to make its news lively to attract a

fairly wide audience. Bullard says the station wants to reach middle and

senior managers in all industries, but with two hardcore audiences:

financial professionals who watch at work or on their PC and private

investors who have an interest in their own share portfolios.



’Sky and CNN are general news channels and cast a wider net than us,’

he explains. ’On the other hand, many business channels are worried

about being extremely dull and dry so they throw in lots of lifestyle

programmes.



We only want to cover the stories that affect business, but that can be

something as dry as the Nomura copper dealing scandal or as vibrant as

the collapse of a government.’



CNBC broadcasts worldwide, taking news from its US and Asian sister

channels along with its own seven hours of European programming to

produce 24 hours of business news.



But Bullard has plans to make CNBC’s coverage better. He wants a camera

linked by ISDN line in every financial capital in Europe so that CNBC’s

London studio can go there live at any time. He also believes that the

use of more background and video footage would shrug off accusations

that it’s a bloke in a suit reading off numbers. But most of all, he

wants to make sure that he is able to handle all the editorial decisions

that are asked of him.



’UK broadcasters have had years to learn their trade,’ he says. ’I’ve

only been dealing with this area for 18 months. I know I’ve got a lot to

learn.’



Highlights

1989

International sales manager, New Media Sales

1993

Director of advertising sales, NBC Europe

1995

Director, CNBC Europe



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