Broke As A Peacock!

zucker Broke As A Peacock!In recent months, bad news in the financial world has translated into big news for CNBC, and big news is good news for a 24-hour cable news network. With national interest in financial news at a fever pitch, the business news network has been posting its highest ratings in its 19-year history.

And now, owner GE is rewarding them with … budget cuts!

Bosses at CNBC, The Observer has learned, are now preparing to scale back budgets. Sources inside CNBC have heard that the figure could approach a 10 percent overall budget cut.

“We’re committed to having the best team in business news worldwide,” said CNBC spokesman Kevin Goldman.

In recent years, NBC’s shift from the analog to the digital era has resulted in a range of money-saving maneuvers, particularly at MSNBC and NBC News.

But until now CNBC has largely avoided the machete. Last year, for instance, the cable business channel was reportedly exempted from the cuts thanks to the nascent competition from the newly launched Fox Business Network.

Over the past year, CNBC has enjoyed steady ratings dominance over their competitors at Fox Business. But the downside of CNBC’s competitive success is that it has apparently brought their budget back into play. The move doesn’t surprise many longtime observers of the NBC landscape. “It’s only logical that after cut after cut at NBC News and MSNBC that CNBC would eventually have to come to the table,” said one TV insider.

Back in October, NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker sent an e-mail to employees, informing them that roughly $500 million, or roughly 3 percent of the budget, would be cut across the company, focusing on “reductions in promotion expenses; in discretionary spending, such as travel and entertainment and outside consultants; and in staffing costs.”

Whether “staffing costs” are among those that will have to be implemented at CNBC remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, serious changes are rumored to be afoot for NBC News’ investigative unit led by senior correspondent Lisa Myers and senior producer Jim Popkin.

The unit is based in Washington, D.C. On Friday, Nov. 7, TVNewser reported that Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker was encouraging D.C. staffers to take buyout offers, which, according to their source, had been offered to “virtually everyone” in the bureau.

Will the buyouts affect the investigative team moving forward?

“Our commitment to investigative journalism remains as strong as ever,” NBC News spokesperson Allison Gollust said. “We aren’t looking to make any changes there. We’re not planning to make any changes to personnel.”

fgillette@observer.com