Is CNBC For Sale?

Tyler Durden's picture

There may be some major changes in the NBC ownership structure according to media and financial pundits. Even as General Electric is dealing with significant balance sheet problems, which have been temporarily swept under the rug compliments of unjustified Goldman Sachs stock upgrades, it may be looking at getting rid of its "vanity play", the NBC TV station family, which of course includes CNBC. According to MarketWatch:

Even in good times, NBC can seem to resemble a loose shirttail in GE's body of assets. If you could figure out why GE has dubbed NBC a "core asset," then feel free to call GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. He's likely wondering at times, too.

NBC's image was shaken in July when Ben Silverman, co-head of NBC's entertainment operation, exited the network. The Wall Street Journal observed that the executive's departure was "ending one of broadcast TV's high-profile experiments in re-inventing itself as its dominance continues to wane."

And while NBC is having few and far between successes, even as the popularity of the mainstay "Tonight Show" drops (from 18 million viewers down to 6 million), the network's other presumably profitable channels, CNBC in particular, have also seen a dramatic drop in their viewer metrics. The melting ice cube of the traditional media core holding has lead MarketWatch to observe the "the key question is when -- not if anymore -- Immelt will sell NBC, whose portfolio includes NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and other assets."

Michael Holland adds:

"Immelt has shown that he is capable of disposing things that don't fit the mainstream at GE," Holland pointed out. Holland said Immelt would take seriously the prospect of selling NBC "if he were offered a bid for it today. But now is not the best time. They're not doing that well and valuations are down. This is not time to get a great price.

Unfortunately this very well may be the best time for a media venture, as the market gradually begins its reintroduction with gravity. Recall that Harbinger recently sold a major stake of its NYT holdings: it appears others have top ticked the media market. Jeff Immelt is likely not too far behind Phil Falcone in this regard. As such, it is unlikely that valuations will increase markedly from this point on. The only question is who will acquire the NBC family, and whether subsidiary companies such as CNBC and MSNBC will be included in the package. At first blush, it does not seem a practical move, as most major networks have been developing their own business related channels: if anything, the probability of selective picking off of specific anchors and personalities would make much more sense, than paying for the "intangible" value of a station like CNBC, which over the past 6 months has attained a definitive reputation of selective reporting bias and prejudice.

Perhaps this is the moment for CNBC to start being an objective TV station once again. After all, that is the only way it can hope to regain its floundering viewership. Yet, while it is caught in the Catch 22 of being a subsidiary of one of the most financially troubled conglomerates, the likelihood that it will promote objectivity and diligent reporting is next to negligible: GE has nothing to gain from CNBC spreading the truth about the domestic economy without 10 shades of rosiness. Thus CNBC is caught in a toxic spiral, whereby its value drops every single day it remains a GE sub. And Jeff Immelt is likely very much aware of this phenomenon. Which is why readers should not be too surprised if in the next several weeks or months Bob Pisani uses his "victory for the bulls" catchphrase a mere 10 times per day or less, as it may very well be time for a strategic shift in orientation of CNBC, and quite possibly, an outright sale.

h/t AsiaBlues

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Ned Zeppelin's picture

Let's chip in and buy it!

Miles Kendig's picture

Given the current metrics shouldn't GE pay us to take it off their hands?

I suspect that merging CNBC with the Internet focused business forums may well be the only way left to save it.

MinnesotaNice's picture

CNBC is just a brand... with some anchor contracts... and commercial contracts... they probably lease the set... there would be nothing else really tangible in an asset sale with goodwill being the basis of the sale.  So I agree... GE should pay us... and wouldn't that be fun to have such a forum for ZH type material... but I bet the FCC would get busy on new regulations to assure that only appropriate financial information that is in the 'best interests' of the country can be played on network television.

Anonymous's picture

They have huge facilities on Sylvan Ave. in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

sohbetme's picture

I like your ideas and chat

Miles Kendig's picture

but I bet the FCC would get busy on new regulations to assure that only appropriate financial information that is in the 'best interests' of the country can be played on network television.

That is precisely the reasoning behind my suggestion MnN.  That the broadest dissemination possible of the information contained here at ZH and many other online forums is in the best interests of the nation by serving to inform the nation.  You know... a well informed & engaged populace is the foundation upon which a responsible self governing society is built.  Once a broad portion of the populace gets to hear, read & see what we have to offer any attempt to regulate it away would have the most untenable consequences for the status quo. 

If Jeffrey Immelt wants in on the next big thing in media the time is now, as long as he is willing to take the hit to his other subsidiaries that being a true champion of the free flow of information would require.  I firmly believe that the time is fast approaching when we will discover who really has the power.  The monster or those that created and released the monster.  This is but one of a few options out there that are "off the shelf" that could be deployed in the attempt to corral the monster.

MinnesotaNice's picture

Very eloquent Layne... and so true...

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deadhead's picture

great idea Ned.

The Tyler Durden Show could feature him with a different colored bag over his head everyday.

Mad Money would be replaced by the Gordon Gekko "buy gold or you're a moron" show. (you know i love you gg...)

Robo's reamjob and poleaxe plays of the day recap (naturally, Robo will demand contract extensions for MCC, or at least her cans).

Project Mayhem and "the end is near" segment, featuring a daily over/under on how many days the earth has left to exist.

Walstreet Pro guy will do live rant features using real sell side analysts as batting targets.

this has some possibilities....

dnarby's picture

Andrew Jackson would be far more appropriate.

Dig it:

"“I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.” - From the original minutes of the Philadelphia committee of citizens sent to meet with President Jackson, February 1834, according to Stan V. Henkels, Andrew Jackson and the Bank of the United States, 1928"

Not to mention Fawkes tried to blow up his goverment, but instead got caught and executed.  I sympathise with the anti-statist sentiment, but do we really want to lionize an incompetent anarchist is beyond me...

MsCreant's picture

I nominate deadhead as program director.

DaddyWarbucks's picture

LOL! That is quite a line up.

Anonymous's picture

Jerry and the boys music videos. . .

arnoldsimage's picture

too late... blankfein wants his pet a wee bit closer to his vest.

Anonymous's picture

The unraveling of the Viacom deal with GE is probably playing a part in this. GE sure doesn' have the cah to buy Viacom out.

RobotTrader's picture








bonddude's picture

Fukin A bubba...let's add Liz Claman and Rebecca Diamond and we're hard news reporting !

What an upgrade.

Howard_Beale's picture

Liz Clamen would never go back to CNBC...even under new leadership. And sorry Robo--MCC only gets to anchor if her mic is off.

deadhead's picture

robo...funny!  I swear under the penalties of perjury that I wrote my response before I saw yours....


too funny!

edit...the CIT tape under MCC cannot be a coincidence....

ToNYC's picture

Animal prints are so over and she can't speak American..don't they want her where they drive on the wrong side? But now MCC for sure as long as she wears sweaters we don't need to watch the tape and remember there are gifts that nature provides that balance the whole package. The lip enhanced and psycho-clown rumor monger are toast indeed.

buzzsaw99's picture

CNBC has jumped the shark more times than the law allows. They have been irrelevant since the tech crash. Mouthpiece for teh billionaires, that's all they are.

dnarby's picture

I disagree - They jumped it once, and never came back down.

putbuyer's picture

I think people know in an increasing wave that the whole NBC propaganda machine is bullshit. Just look at the Nielsen numbers across the board - FOX is killing them. The only way CNBC has a chance is if they let Santelli run the network.

Anonymous's picture

Fox is nothing but Rupert Murdock's mouth piece or triple bullshit.

Anonymous's picture

If Santelli goes on Fox, CNBC goes into rigor mortis.

Anonymous's picture

That has more to say about the intelligence of the vast majority of the American people than it does about anything else.

DaddyWarbucks's picture

I won't attempt to defend the general public except to remind you that the U.S population has been the subject of the worlds largest mind control experiment for the last 60 years, by many, many, times the largest and most extensive effort. There are two facts about propaganda that one should never forget

1. It works on everyone to some degree or other( Yes, believe it or not, even all the uber-intelligent types.)

2. For any given individual, within some range of response, greater exposure has greater effect.

With number one in mind, different vehicles are constructed targeted at different groups. The CNBC sound byte group gets the Kramer flavored koolaide and the meet the press crowd gets the Roubini flavor. The complexity and nature of the deceipts may vary but it's all good as long as the thoughts, decisions, and actions of the audiences are moved in the same direction. If the ZH audience becomes large and influential enough ZH may get coopted and put on the menu as well. It's been done before.

Problem Is's picture

Absolutely correct analysis, Daddy W.

For a well documented primer on the massive US propaganda onslaught of the 20th century, read:

"Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Alex Carey

Manfred's picture

CNBC is a useful economic propaganda machine. MSNBC is even more useful to the dems and NBC proper a derivative (ironically) of the former. Should they be sold it will be to a "friendly". Reference Zero's article from a few days ago:

1TAAT's picture


Sell now while you can, you putz. I turned off CNBS a few years ago, and don't miss a thing.

ShankyS's picture

Good riddance.

Bubby BankenStein's picture

The leadership @ CNBC have destroyed their brand and are steadily damaging the credibility of GE.

GE, the great industrial company, lost it's way by misadventures in finance and media.

Missing_Link's picture

Looking forward to Zero Hedge TV.

putbuyer's picture

I think you are on-the-money. Look how big has gotten. Also love watching Denninger videos. Of course, our leaders would have to wear masks. The ladies can go topless. Anyway, great idea because my lazy want to know whats going on, but to lazy to read friends, would at least watch and forward.

digalert's picture

Contemplating the sale, two things keep appearing in my mystic powers mind, taxpayer $$$ and Obama. NBC media is a propaganda machine that will be spared, ratings or not, at our expense of course.

Anonymous's picture

shut it down for good

River's picture


Alas, their current cast can hardly perform an about-face without exposing themselves for the shills that they are. Without at least some of the current line-up, what are they? Where's the value? Art Cashin is the only voice I hear any more when it comes to CNBC. I only watch on rare occasions now, and then it is just to hear what yarns the road-to-recovery puppet masters are spinning today. Pasani must go. Dennis (the moron) Neal must go entirely. Erin Burnette must go. Steve Lies-Man must go. All the liars and cheerleaders need to be shown the exit if CNBC is to regain any semblance of believability again. But they cannot let them all go and still lay claim to be anything but a few sets and some call letters. They deserve a slow ratings death for the lies they have helped to spread these many months.


putbuyer's picture

Dennis the Menace has bit the dust already. Great story and i think they should hire this big knockered reporter.

McGriffen's picture

unfortunately Dennis is on at mid-day...only his show took the axe

MsCreant's picture

She is pregnant so the knockers will not stay big. Deal breaker for you?

RobotTrader's picture

Applications for Anchorettes for

Zero Hedge TV

now being accepted.