CNBC to double its worldwide audience via CCTV link-up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 June, 2010, 12:00am

CNBC, the world's leading satellite and cable business news network, owned by NBC Universal, expects its new collaboration with state broadcaster China Central Television to sharpen its mainland coverage and double its global audience.

The strategic partnership, announced in Beijing last Friday, follows one forged in 2003 between CNBC and Shanghai Media Group (SMG), the country's second-largest news and media conglomerate after CCTV.

With those two alliances secured, CNBC now has a wider back door into the mainland's coveted domestic media market, which continues to be technically off-limits to foreign investors.

Those deals are also in line with what CNBC president Mark Hoffman said was a plan for a steady and calculated expansion into the mainland.

'It's a process, and we're working through that,' Hoffman told the South China Morning Post in an interview early this year. 'We feel good about where we are ... We're aggressive in some parts of the world and we're patient in others.'

Launched in April 1989, CNBC provides 24-hour financial market coverage and business information to more than 390 million households worldwide.

Satpal Brainch, the president and managing director of CNBC Asia- Pacific, said the CCTV alliance extends the network's reach into a further 400 million homes.

CNBC's Asia-Pacific operation was set up in Hong Kong in June 1995. The following year, it became the first United States-owned, Asia-based TV news organisation to open a bureau in Shanghai.

The regional headquarters was moved to Singapore in 1998 after a merger with Asia Business News. Across the region, CNBC channels are available in more than 21 markets and compete against global rivals such as Bloomberg TV.

CNBC's new arrangement with CCTV will allow it to bring international capital market analyses and financial news updates to the mainland broadcaster's Business Channel programme Global Connection Show, on CCTV 2.

These will be broadcast in English with Chinese subtitles and anchored from CNBC's Singapore headquarters and CCTV's main studios in Beijing. Other terms of the two networks' deal were not given.

'These daily market updates will provide all viewers across China with access to fast, accurate, actionable and unbiased information, data and analysis,' Brainch said.

Guo Zhenxi, the director-general at CCTV Business Channel, said the programming with CNBC would 'further promote the advancement of international business and world economic development'.

CNBC and SMG's relationship enables the two companies to exchange content and split advertising revenue from shared programming.

'Our relationship with the Shanghai Media Group allows us to report live out of Shanghai three times a day, every day,' Hoffman said.

SMG, in turn, has established its Putonghua version of CNBC Asia- Pacific's multiple-award-winning Managing Asia programme, which features interviews with regional business leaders, for the domestic market.

Despite 'complexities' in the mainland's media sector, Hoffman said: 'We would like to grow in China, but we want to grow the right way.'

'The numbers in China are obviously huge, based on its total population, but we have consciously made the decision to be focused on quality of the audience - whether it's the level of the education or affluence,' he said. 'We want to be popular in a more narrow and high-end kind of way.'

He described the CNBC audience as 'very difficult to aggregate, which advertisers and [content] distributors are prepared to pay a premium for'.

The goals of CNBC, which 'just finished its fourth year of double-digit profit growth', are expected to remain the same when US cable operator Comcast completes its announced buyout of 51 per cent of parent NBC Universal, according to Hoffman.