Fox Launches a Business Channel and I Reconsider CNBC and Bloomberg

Early Monday morning the new Fox business channel officially began airing at 4am. Now there is a new kid on the block for financial news media, and my biggest problem is which channel to set my television to during the trading day.

CNBC and Bloomberg were the only other major business channels up until now, and it will be interesting to see the different programming formats that Fox Business attempts. Hopefully this will be the end of watching late night infomercials and gameshows on CNBC or the continuous market scoreboards and scrolling tickers that make Bloomberg news so tedious.

How does one win the ratings game?

I miss the old days when CNBC (formerly FNN) would have guests like John Murphy, a well respected technical analyst, come on the program to highlight particular charting patterns and trends. I also miss the days of Dan Dorfman, who would discuss daily rumors and market events that would make stocks skyrocket or dive in a flash.

If any of these major networks focused, not just on informing the investing public, but on actually educating investors, I believe they would set themselves apart from the rest. I often hear novice investors say, “I don’t understand anything that they are talking about. Interest rates? Trade deficits? The value of the dollar? What does this have to do with whether I should buy Google (GOOG) at $600 plus dollars per share?”

Financial TV has become just as much of an information overload as the Internet when it comes to the hundreds of differing opinions of what stocks and industry groups are at buying or shorting levels. Just once I would like one of these channels to set aside a time slot to explain the actual fundamental analytics, financial planning techniques, portfolio management strategies or options strategies for an investing plan.

We are constantly told what the best stocks to buy are and why, but rarely do we see guests and analysts on these programs tell investors what to sell and the reason for their bearishness. Also, never do I see one of these market gurus say, “Hey, I was wrong on this pick six months ago, but here is what I did to cut my losses and move on to the next episode.”

That is the main conflict for these channels; the goal of providing news and information without crossing the line into a third-party advisory medium (resulting in endless repetitive disclosure policy). Today’s viewer is as much interested in reacting to a market news event as absorbing it.

The future of financial news media will hopefully ultimately lie in an on-demand environment rather than a shove-it-in-your-face programming format. For example, when you enter “GOOG” into the search box, instead of a chart with company specific statistics and news headlines indexed by that stock symbol, investors would be better served with a listing of analyst interviews and opinions or a listing of past trading strategies related to that symbol.

For now though, I will switch between CNBC and Fox because they have the prettiest news anchors.

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Photo:bookish in north park, Creative Commons, Flickr