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
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
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
International sales manager, New Media Sales
Director of advertising sales, NBC Europe
Director, CNBC Europe