National News

March 28, 2014

Maria Bartiromo launches Fox Sunday show

NEW YORK — Political junkies have plenty of choices on Sunday-morning television. That’s not the case for those who follow business, a niche that Maria Bartiromo hopes to fill starting this weekend on Fox News Channel.

The former CNBC personality debuts her one-hour program, “Sunday Morning Futures,” at 10 a.m. EDT. It will feature interviews with business leaders and round-table discussions, with an emphasis on anticipating the financial stories of the upcoming week.

“You turn on the television Sunday morning and you see all of these politicos talking their talking points, but very rarely do you ever see anybody connecting the dots — it’s about the economy, it’s about job creation, it’s about business,” she said. “What I hope to do is get business people into the conversation on Sunday morning.”

Original business programming is scarce on Sundays, even on networks that cater to that audience. CNBC and Fox Business Network both air infomercials for most of the daytime hours.

The Sunday Fox News slot was an important enticement for Bartiromo to make the jump to Fox, where she also hosts a two-hour weekday morning show on the business network. For two decades, Bartiromo was one of the main attractions at CNBC, the “Money Honey” whose breathless reporting from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange defined a go-go era.

On its face, the move to Fox Business lowers her visibility since FBN has struggled to establish itself as a competitor. Bartiromo’s “Opening Bell” has averaged 54,000 viewers a day since she joined last month, compared with the 191,000 viewers that CNBC gets in the same time slot, the Nielsen company said.

A Sunday show on the Fox News Channel, meanwhile, offers a chance to reach a much larger audience. Fox is averaging 1.1 million viewers each week for the news and medical shows that “Sunday Morning Futures” will be displacing, more than the combined viewership for a CNN show with Fareed Zakaria and an MSNBC program with Melissa Harris-Perry in the same time slot.

Bartiromo said she had considered another deal at CNBC when her contract came due but decided to look around, too. She concluded her job at CNBC wouldn’t change much, and she was looking to do some things differently. She was ready for a move.

“They have gotten so chatty, with so much personality, that they left some of the content on the cutting room floor — business information,” she said.

Bartiromo said she believes CNBC’s fast pace is no longer in tune with the times.

“I just felt this pressure to do five-minute interviews and this pressure to have five people on at once and I just got tired of it,” she said. “I felt like I needed something with a little more substance and perspective and felt it was going to be hard to do that where I was because the structure is the structure and the machine keeps on going.”

CNBC spokesman Brian Steel declined to comment.

Bartiromo said it’s telling that many Wall Street firms are concentrating more on long-term wealth management strategies. “People don’t care about buying XYZ (stock) at 10 o’clock and selling it at 10:01,” she said. “It’s not what they’re looking to do.”

Instead, she’s looking to do longer interviews with, she hopes, a longer-term perspective. Among her interview subjects since she’s joined Fox Business have been Blackstone Group Chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, AIG CEO Bob Benmosche, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and eBay CEO John Donahoe.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier and Cleveland Clinic chief executive Dr. Toby Cosgrove are scheduled to be on Bartiromo’s first show.

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