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
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
’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
’That was the worst audience in the world for anyone working in TV
Everything else I can handle.’
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.