Media Profile: Spreading the word - Chris Graves, vice-president of news and programming, CNBC Europe

Chris Graves, CNBC Europe’s vice-president of news and programming, has a problem.

Chris Graves, CNBC Europe’s vice-president of news and programming,

has a problem.



CNBC is viewed in 56 million homes across Europe via cable, satellite

and digital. Graves’ task is to cater for this enormous church of

viewers without turning the channel into a watered-down, magazine

programme-dominated Europudding.



Graves took on the task of revamping the network’s European coverage

last year, and after studying the market for six months, is preparing to

introduce a series of changes to give the channel a more intense

focus.



’I have been here for six months looking at how all European television

is made,’ he says. ’I have also been studying how to satisfy our diverse

viewers. We have screens in 150 dealing rooms but we also want to reach

the marketing manager of a large car company and do it through our news

reputation.’



To that end, he is introducing beat reports - specialist slots

throughout the week covering sectors like technology, media, travel, and

personal finance. As Dow Jones owns both CNBC and the Wall Street

Journal, reporters from the paper will present slots on breaking news,

recent news and trends.



Graves is also introducing Squawk Box - a stock market prediction

programme which runs before each stock market starts trading - that is

filled with boisterous comment. It has already been seen to work in the

US and Asia.



There are three things Graves wants from PROs. The first is to get hold

of key people quickly in emergency situations - he cites news of a

merger deal between Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom this week, where

the channel was chasing executives from the company for comment. He

wants to encourage daily contact between press offices and his

reporters. And lastly, he wants company chief executives to be put

forward for CNBC’s evening talk show, the Big Interview.



Graves admits the channel doesn’t easily pull in the big names. ’You

find that in every territory the local terrestrial broadcasters are the

most powerful brands,’ he says.Graves has extensive experience with

business news in the US. Indeed, as he’s been working in it since its

fledgling days in 1987 he’s practically developed the genre. When he

helped set up Asian Business News, he had three months to build the

studios in a car park in Singapore and recruit a multi-lingual staff,

most who had no experience of business television. Admittedly, for a man

who’d cut his televisual teeth sound recording the Clash when they

toured the US, this looked easy. As a result, he seems blithely

confident now.



But the channel’s reach has convinced some. In April, the Big Interview

pulled in the CEOs of On Digital, Ericsson and Electrolux as well as the

Argentine finance minister. The question is, will Graves be able to

target the service at Europeans or will his extensive US experience

alienate them?



’Chris is the opposite of the awful American,’ says Consuelo Mack,

anchor and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Report in New York

and a colleague of Graves for 12 years. ’He has viewer sensibilities

rather than American sensibilities.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1987

Head of television, Dow Jones

1998

Head of news, CNBC Asia

1998

Vice-president of news and programming, CNBC Europe



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