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FNN Merged with CNBC Into Single Cable Channel

May 22, 1991 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ NBC’s Consumer News and Business Channel showed up today with a new partner - its former cable television rival, Financial News Network.

FNN ended nearly a decade in the cable business on Tuesday in the wake of its sale to NBC, which is merging the two business news channels.

Viewers who normally tuned into either service today found a fortified version of CNBC that officials said would combine the best features as well as some of the news staff from both networks.

The daytime schedule will be called CNBC-FNN Daytime, while the evening programming will be known as CNBC Nighttime. The FNN sports service on weekend is being dropped in favor of a talk show format.

Albert Barber, the president of CNBC-FNN, was interviewed this morning on the merged network and told FNN viewers they could expect ″everything they saw before and then some.″

As part of the merger plan, NBC was expected to hire about 60 of FNN’s 280 staff members for the new channel. But it was also closing FNN offices in Los Angeles and New York while retaining the CNBC headquarters in Fort Lee, N.J.

FNN staffers offered their goodbyes to viewers throughout the day on Tuesday. The network also ran a number of short features that recalled some of FNN’s highlights, including the Black Monday market crash in 1987.

The staff’s mood was described as surprisingly upbeat even though two- thirds of them may be losing their jobs.

″There is a sense of relief that the treading water we have been doing for the past six months is over,″ said Ron Insana, who has been an FNN anchor and is joining the new network.

FNN is being shut down just over six months after the cable network was put up for sale. Its parent, Financial News Network Inc., was so heavily in debt that it was driven to seek bankruptcy court protection March 1.

National Broadcasting Co.’s CNBC had a tough fight for FNN from a partnership of Dow Jones & Co. and Westinghouse Broadcasting Co.

But its victory with an offer of $154.3 million plus a promise of more should the combined service generate revenue of more than $227 million over the next three years was clinched only last week when the Dow-Westinghouse group dropped its legal challenge to the sale of FNN to CNBC.

The merger of the two services enables CNBC to expand its distribution, which had been stalled at 18 million subscribers nationwide. FNN claimed nearly 36 million subscribers. Many cable system operators were reluctant to carry both business services because of limited channel capacity.

Neither FNN nor CNBC have attracted very large ratings, but NBC is hopeful that as the lone cable business channel it will be able to attract a bigger audience and more support from national advertisers than either service could separately.