CNBC buys Nightly Business Report; show leaving Miami

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The title slide for the new Nightly Business Report, which will be produced for public television by CNBC starting March 4. (Image: American Public Television)

American Public Television

The title slide for the new Nightly Business Report, which will be produced for public television by CNBC starting March 4. (Image: American Public Television)

Nightly Business Report, the public TV business news show that has repeatedly shed staff during nearly three tumultuous years under two owners, has been sold again – this time to financial news powerhouse CNBC.

The cable network will produce the weeknightly series exclusively for public TV stations from its headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., effective March 4. The show’s bureaus in New York and Washington and its headquarters at Miami’s WPBT will shut down.

The sale brings another round of changes to the staff who produce and appear on the show. Anchor Susie Gharib will stay with NBR, but co-anchor Tom Hudson is exiting. CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen, who had initially interviewed for the co-anchor job when longtime host Paul Kangas retired, will now replace Hudson.

Back then, “we liked him a lot,” Wendie Feinberg Fisher, former NBR v.p. and managing editor, said of Mathisen. “We thought he was bright and would be a terrific addition to the program.”

The sale to CNBC is also a good fit, Fisher told Current.  “That’s probably the best opportunity for the program to survive. I know that to some people that might seem like an odd combination, but Mark Hoffman, who runs CNBC, is one of the smartest guys in the business.”

Miami’s WPBT, which once owned NBR and remained its home base after the first sale in 2010, is also hit by the loss. In a memo to staff, President Rick Schneider wrote: “NBR as we know it will come to an end.” Of the 18 positions eliminated from the production, 11 are in Florida, the remainder divided between New York and Washington.

“It has been clear for months, even years, that the existing business model for NBR was unsustainable as national production underwriting dried up,” Schneider said in the memo. Atalaya Capital Management, a New York venture capital firm, “deserves credit” for funding the series since Franklin Templeton sponsorship ended last August, he added.

American Public Television will continue to distribute NBR through its Exchange service. Chris Funkhouser, Exchange v.p., told Current that carriage has increased in the last year from 107 to 126 licensees. There will be no fee changes, and feed patterns for the program will not change.

Nikhil Deogun s.v.p. and editor-in-chief of business news at CNBC, told Current that NBR will have its own show unit and a designated supervising producer within the cable network’s large headquarters. “We have significant resources at our disposal, including several hundred journalists worldwide.”

Deogun is personally excited about the new acquisition. “We’re big fans of the show,” he said. “We love business news, it’s in our blood. We’re business news geeks. For a lot of us, it’s the first business news show we saw on TV. This is an opportunity to preserve and strengthen the brand.”

He also doesn’t think NBR will compete against CNBC weeknight shows. “There’s very little audience crossover,” he said.

WPBT sold NBR to educational video salesman Mykalai Kontiali in August 2010. Just over a year later, in November 2011, investor Atalaya, which backed Kontilai’s purchase, moved him aside and brought in Rick Ray, who built cable producer Raycom Sports, as the program’s c.e.o.

As in the past transactions, the sale price to CNBC is not public.

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