Media Profile: Getting down to serious business - Rob Beynon, Managing editor, EBN

Pan-European business television is one of the great dreams to become a reality in the 1990s.

Pan-European business television is one of the great dreams to

become a reality in the 1990s.



There’s CNN International, BBC World, NBC Superchannel, Euronews and EBN

all battling for a bit of marketplace supremacy out there. The industry

reckons there is plenty of money to be made. It is just that no-one’s

actually making any of it yet.



It is usually a simple equation - viewers equal revenue - and the man in

charge of attracting EBN’s viewers is Rob Beynon, the channel’s managing

editor.



He’s a broadcast journalist trained by the BBC’s News and Current

Affairs department and was originally wary of the world of business

news. After all, there’s no slow motion, action replay, battlefield

reports or survivor interviews when covering the rise and fall of share

prices.



’When I was talking to my boss Michael Connor, who used to be an anchor

for ABC, he said he was a news journalist but loved watching MTV and I

thought ’Ah! I can work for this bloke,’’ says Beynon.



He joined EBN at its launch and he is now responsible for taking it in

its new direction.



’We did some research recently and found that very few European viewers

had the American habit of watching in the office,’ he explains. ’You

just don’t find senior management with a TV on their desk over here.

That has made us do a bit of a switch around of our programming, putting

more stuff on the weekends and changing some of the programming strands.

We don’t want to be one of those channels with two grey men in suits

reading off a list of numbers as they move across the screen.’



Thus EBN is embarking on a series of themed weekends and appointment to

view programming. It will continue to provide market round-ups and price

trends with its shareholder Dow Jones providing anchors in London,

Singapore and New York.



But in addition EBN will cover personal finance, offer small business

helping hints, healthcare and education issues with new strands such as

Your Money. There will also be documentaries and discussion shows on

major issues like the debate on European Monetary Union.



’Our first themed weekend is called I Want To Be My Own Boss ,’ Beynon

explains. ’We’ll be showing people that you don’t need ten MBAs to

understand how to run a company. It’ll be almost like a starter pack in

a very informative and cheerful style - sort of MTV meets Dow Jones.

That will lead into a new programme strand called the New Manager which

will try to explain how home working, laptops and GSM phones are

changing the role of managers these days.’



Even with the vast resources of Dow Jones behind him, Beynon knows the

battle for viewers is going to be a war of attrition but then, tough

start-ups are nothing new to him. He was at Sky News for its launch and

was responsible the station’s first hour of programming.



’That hour was only watched by the board of News Corporation,’ says

Beynon.



’That was the worst audience in the world for anyone working in TV

news.



Everything else I can handle.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1978: Journalist, BBC TV Bristol

1983: Scriptwriter, video sub and programme editor, ITN

1988: Executive producer, Sky News

1993: Partner, Campaign Television

1994: Managing editor, EBN.



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