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CNBC is an American pay television business news channel that is owned by NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News, a division of NBCUniversal, with both being ultimately owned by Comcast. Headquartered in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, the network primarily carries business day coverage of U.S. and international financial markets; following the end of the business day and on non-trading days, CNBC primarily carries financial and business-themed documentaries and reality shows.
CNBC was originally established on April 17, 1989 as a joint venture between NBC and Cablevision as the Consumer News and Business Channel. Two years later, in 1991, the network acquired its main competitor, the Financial News Network, a move which expanded both its distribution and its workforce. Cablevision subsequently sold its stake to NBC, giving NBC sole ownership. As of February 2015, CNBC is available to approximately 93,623,000 pay television households (80.4% of households with television) in the United States.In 2007, the network was ranked as the 19th most valuable cable channel in the United States, worth roughly $4 billion.
In addition to the domestic U.S. feed, various localized versions of CNBC also operate, serving different regions and countries. NBCUniversal is the owner, or a minority stakeholder, in many of these versions.
CNBC had its beginnings around 1980 as the Satellite Program Network (SPN), showing a low-budget mix of old movies, instructional and entertainment programs. The channel later changed its name to Tempo Television. After initially signing a letter of intent to acquire Tempo, NBC eventually opted for a deal to lease the channel’s transponder in June 1988. On this platform, and under the guidance of Tom Rogers, the channel was relaunched on April 17, 1989 as the Consumer News and Business Channel. NBC and Cablevision initially operated CNBC as a 50-50 joint venture, choosing to headquarter the channel in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
CNBC had considerable difficulty getting cable carriage at first, as many providers were skeptical of placing it alongside the longer-established Financial News Network. By the winter of 1990, CNBC was only in 17 million homes – less than half of FNN’s potential reach – despite having the muscle of NBC standing behind it. The original financial television concept predates both CNBC and FNN, as several independent TV stations commenced financial programming starting in the late 1960s (WCIU Chicago & KWHY Los Angeles); as Gene Inger, a Registered Investment Advisor, pioneered financial programming in several cities; notably San Francisco, Miami / Fort Lauderdale; then his part-owned WWHT Channel 68 Newark (serving the NY market). Mr. Inger (never part of FNN) disengaged operationally after the sale of Channel 68 to Miami-based Wometco; and today Channel 68 is an NBC property. (Inger was a guest on CNBC for years and as of 2019 provides online commentary from Florida.)
However, around this time, FNN encountered serious financial difficulties. After a protracted bidding war with a Dow Jones-Westinghouse Broadcasting consortium (the former’s assets would be used to build a rival channel almost two decades later), CNBC acquired FNN for $154.3 million on May 21, 1991 and immediately merged the two operations, hiring around 60 of FNN’s 300-strong workforce. The deal increased the distribution of the newly enlarged network to over 40 million homes.Cablevision sold its 50% stake to NBC upon completion of the deal. With the full name “Consumer News and Business Channel” dropped, the network’s daytime business programming was branded “CNBC/FNN Daytime,” although this was phased out by 1992.
Roger Ailes was hired as the new president of CNBC in 1993, tasked by NBC CEO Bob Wright with turning around the struggling network. Under Ailes’ leadership from 1993 through 1995, the $400 million network doubled in value, and its revenues tripled. In addition, Ailes oversaw the launch of a 1994 spin-off channel from CNBC, called “America’s Talking.”[circular reference] Ailes left CNBC and America’s Talking in late 1995 when Microsoft and NBC created a joint venture to reprogram America’s Talking as MSNBC.
CNBC grew during the 1990s, launching Asian and European versions of the channel in 1995 and 1996 respectively.In 1997, CNBC formed a strategic alliance with Dow Jones, including content sharing with Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal and the rebranding of the channel as “a service of NBC Universal and Dow Jones”. CNBC’s international channels were then merged into a 50-50 joint venture with their Dow Jones-owned rivals, London-based EBN (European Business News) and Singapore-based ABN (Asia Business News) in 1998, while ratings grew on the U.S. channel until the new millennium’s dot-com bubble burst in 2000.
The new millennium also brought changes to the network in 2003, moving its world headquarters from 2200 Fletcher Avenue, Fort Lee to 900 Sylvan Avenue (Route 9W) in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which features completely digital video production and studios made by PDG Ltd of Beeston, Nottinghamshire and the FX Group of Ocoee, Florida.
NBC Universal reacquired full control of loss-making CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia from Dow Jones at the end of 2005. The licensing agreement between Dow and CNBC U.S. remained intact, however.
Today, CNBC provides business news programming on weekdays from 4:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Eastern Time, while broadcasting talk shows, investigative reports, documentaries, infomercials, and other programs at all other times. A rolling ticker provides real-time updates on share prices on the NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX, as well as market indices, news summaries, and weather updates by NBC meteorologists (prior to March 27, 2006, all of CNBC’s weather reports were provided by AccuWeather). A rotating top band of the screen rotates provides real-time updates on index and commodity prices from world markets.
On October 13, 2014 – coincidentally the 11th anniversary of CNBC’s relocation to its current facilities in Englewood Cliffs, NJ – CNBC switched to a full 16:9 letterbox presentation, in line with its Asian and European siblings (see “On-air presentation” below for more information). As of January 4, 2016, the network’s 480i standard definition feed now shows the same 16:9 HD feed on its 4:3 picture, due to the application of the AFD #10 flag.