Media Analysis: More to CNBC than rolling news

CNBC Europe is celebrating ten years on UK screens. Hannah Marriott looks at why it is more in-depth than many competitors and the opportunities for PROs.

This year, CNBC Europe celebrates its 10th anniversary of broadcasting in the UK.

The channel is well known by the majority of London's city and corporate PR professionals, but is actively seeking closer relationships with the rest - and with UK politicians.

London has been increasingly important to the CNBC network for some time, says Barbara Stelzner, CNBC Europe vice-president news and programming, who explains that 40 per cent of CNBC Europe's business stories emerge from the capital.

Although CNBC Europe does feature some US programming, it produces many of its own shows from its London HQ. Unlike its rivals, which focus on rolling news, CNBC Europe has a full schedule of programming (see box).

Its closest B2B competitor is Bloomberg Television, although Stelzner claims that CNBC Europe contains more in-depth discussion and analysis than its more news-driven competitor.

City savvy

Almost all the CNBC Europe presenters have worked in City institutions and - apart from some of the links - they create their segments unscripted.

As well as crunching the numbers, CNBC tries to add colour and get under the skin of companies, believes Diageo head of corporate, broadcast and digital media Dominic Redfearn.

'We have a few feature ideas that we are talking to them about,' he says. 'I get the impression that they are increasingly trying to add context and background, whether that means interviewing individuals or talking more generally about how companies are operating in the current climate.'

Redfearn says he finds CNBC Europe's editors accessible and keen to stay in touch and talk about company developments, rather than just calling up when results are announced.

Colourful pieces include The Leaders, a show airing from 9.30-11pm every Thursday and Saturday evening and featuring one-on-one interviews with business leaders.

The interviewer may go as far back as the subject's childhood in order to find out what makes them tick. Subjects have included ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal and the channel is keen to interview other similarly illustrious business leaders, as well as politicians.

Other opportunities for PROs to place spokespeople include Europe Tonight (6-7pm, Monday to Thursday), which features interviews with political and financial leaders, and includes a 6.30pm slot with a newspaper editor or senor reporter.

Maitland senior consultant William Clutterbuck comments that - while business broadcast media is not as influential in the UK as it is in the US - CNBC Europe is a key target for his clients, thanks to 'an international reach you don't necessarily achieve with UK nationals'.

'CNBC Europe is well-resourced, quick, relevant and well-organised, and clients say its interview style is fine - not easy questions, but not overly aggressive,' he says.

Indeed, although it would like to know some FTSE bosses and their PR professionals a little better, Stelzner says the channel is well served by the UK business community in general. But the Government, she says, is not as accessible.

She accepts that government officials only have so much time for media interviews, and that - given that business news has firmly entered the mainstream of late - there is a lot of competition for spokespeople.

International focus

Stelzner urges politicians to think more about the international audience, using Northern Rock as an example.

'When the story broke, the Government's instinct was to go to Sky, the BBC and the Financial Times, to talk to the domestic shareholder and the taxpayer. But actually someone should also be talking to the international business community,' she says.

During such stories, CNBC Europe 'looks at what is happening across the world and makes sense of the bigger picture', rather than concentrating on the personal finance angle.

Moreover, Stelzner argues: 'The Northern Rock issue has damaged the image of London as a financial powerhouse as far as international business is concerned - someone in the UK Government should have been addressing this audience.'


- Frequency Broadcasts seven days a week. Top shows include Squawk Box Europe, 6-9am, Worldwide Exchange, 9-11am, and Power Lunch Europe, 11am-12pm

- Audience The channel has 435,000 daily, 2.6 million weekly and six million monthly viewers, according to the European Marketing Survey 2007

- Contacts News editor Patrick Allen covers UK-based news stories. In the first instance, PROs should email:

Two minutes with the news chief

Barbara Stelzner, V-P news and programming

- Where do you find your stories?

We use Reuters and Dow Jones, as well as other newswires across Europe; we pick up stories from the UK press and we find news from speaking to people. I would argue that in many ways all our stories are exclusive, because we offer analysis you won't find anywhere else.

- What is on your agenda at the moment?

The battle for supremacy between New York and London is of great interest. But any business-related events, and political stories with a business angle, will be of interest.

- How else could PROs make your life easier?

We are looking for guests for our flagship programme Squawk Box Europe, which features four experts discussing issues of the day. Worldwide Exchange is another important slot as it has our largest audience on the network. We are very keen to use CEOs whose companies have a global footprint.

- What advice would you give to guests?

Be prepared for anything. We will give you an idea of what we want to cover - though we would never tell you the exact questions.

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