Tuesday, February 08, 2005

CNBC shuffles exec deck

In a sudden move to boost its plunging ratings, CNBC has shaken up its top brass.

CNBC kicked CEO-President Pamela Thomas-Graham upstairs and brought back one of its former hot-shot producers — Mark Hoffman — to help revive the 24-hour business news channel.

Thomas-Graham — a 41-year-old Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard and its law and business schools — will relinquish her two hands-on titles and become chairman to handle "new strategic opportunities," including spinning off shows.

"I'm not going anywhere," she told a news conference. "You'll still see me around here and in New York. But I'll be off looking for new opportunities to grow."

Hoffman worked at CNBC for four years during its heyday in the late 1990s and was known for his ability to create jazzy teasers to keep viewers tuned in.

He rose from executive producer to president of its CNBC European operations, which he left in 2001 to become president of NBC-owned TV station WVIT in New Britain, Conn.

Beginning his new post immediately as CNBC president, Hoffman, 47, will be responsible for all day-to-day operations, programming and technology.

"We've had some external challenges and internal challenges," Hoffman said. "I'm not prepared at this point to make any pronouncements. We'll chart this new course and we'll do it pretty quick."

Insiders said that Thomas-Graham as late as last Thursday was still sitting in at news meetings.

Her old position of CEO won't be filled, the company said.

Hoffman will report to Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group, as well as Graham.

Graham will continue reporting to Robert Wright, chairman of NBC Universal and a vice chairman of its parent, General Electric Co.

In 2004, CNBC's total viewers during the daytime slipped 21 percent from an average of 184,000 to 146,000, according to Nielsen Media Research. Since the Internet meltdown of 2000, CNBC's daytime viewers have declined 61 percent, while its primetime ratings have skidded 64 percent.

CNBC's defenders at NBC say the cable network brings in more than $250 million in annual profit and gets top dollar for ads because of its audience of wealthy Wall Streeters.

In addition to its ratings slump, CNBC is also gearing up for competition from Fox News, which is expected to launch its own business-news network sometime this year.

Both Fox News and The Post are owned by News Corp.
CNBC Change by Paul Taylor, New York Post, 8 February 2005

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ameriquest exposed

Critics say Ameriquest, touted as an industry model, fabricated data, forged documents and hid fees. The company denies wrongdoing.

Workers Say Lender Ran 'Boiler Rooms'
by Mike Hudson and E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times, 4 February 2005