As we reported earlier, Don Imus, the provocative and popular radio personality is in negotiations to move the simulcast of his daily “Imus in the Morning” WABC radio show from the RFD-TV network — a cable channel that identifies itself as “rural America’s most important network” — to the Fox Business Network [FBN], as early as next month.
Media reports say there’s no concrete deal between the talk-show host and the upstart business news channel, but one is expected shortly.
Since the Imus news broke, the media world and the blogosphere in particular, have been swept up in talk of how FOX Business Network is “giving up” or “waving the white flag” to CNBC in terms of business coverage in the AM and not being able to compete in ratings. The thinking goes FBN’s calculated risk of bringing Imus on board will not pay off because the radio legend is simply “swapping an audience that wants to grow soybeans for one that wants to grow money.” There are also those who argue that FBN’s eagerness to reach a mainstream business audience has badly misfired since CNBC alone has been more than enough to fill viewer demand for such programming. While you will have to draw your own conclusions of whether or not these are fair assessments, there’s no question that the Imus move would add some firepower to Fox Business’ morning line-up and increase competition. Imus is known for interviewing business leaders, politicians and news heavyweights – and since September, he’s been covering the financial crisis at length – most recently taking on Matt Taibbi and Charlie Gasparino in the Goldman fight.
Insiders say that Imus’ business coverage will only increase once the radio legend joins FOX Business Network.
A source close to the deal tells Wall Street Pit, the ‘Imus in the Morning’ program will feature multiple breaking business news alerts throughout each hour, topics of discussion will be increasingly business focused and FBN anchors will regularly appear on the show to break down the pre-market news. In addition, two thirds of the screen will feature business news and market tickers through the lower thirds and HD wing.
As far as the competition is concerned, Nielsen ratings show that CNBC’s “bread and butter” show Squawk Box has been scratching – in July the 6-9am program scratched 5% of the time overall and 26% of the time in their demo and in August, they scratched 10% of the time overall and 50% of the time in their demo — which is pretty substantial. Kudlow Report has also been scratching – in July the 7-8pm program scratched 28% of the time overall and 50% of the time in their demo and in August, they scratched 20% of the time overall and 60% of the time in their demo — which, again, is pretty substantial. Almost all of CNBC’s show have been scratching in one area or another throughout the summer. Needless to say, all major networks have been impacted as a result of the markets volatility in the last several quarters.
Nielsen Media Research by the way does not yet release public ratings for Fox Business, but the L.A. Times noted that the channel reaches about 50 million households, about half as many as CNBC.
FB’s latest Imus move is being viewed skeptically among the chattering classes , and for the time being it’s difficult to say whether the marriage will work or not.