CNBC, the call letters of the Consumers News and Business Channel, is a television channel that is owned and operated by NBC Universal. NBC Universal is currently transitioning to its purchase by the Comcast cable provider who will be the new channel ownership group.
CNBC began in the 1980s as the Satellite Program Network, or SPN, and carried variety programming much like many other television channels. The channel made the transition later to the consumer news and business format during 1989 as a joint venture of NBC and Cablevision, after having a difficult time finding carriers for the channel.
As the tech boom of the decade began to flourish the information they provided increased viewership and both satellite and cable carriers, growing to the level of nearly 400 million viewers worldwide. CNBC experienced significant growth during this period. The channel, headquartered in New Jersey, as of this writing, is valued at approximately $4 billion.
CNBC is part of a network of sister channels operated by NBC Universal, the others being MSNBC, NBC and the Weather Channel. In addition to television programming, CNBC also broadcasts on satellite radio and maintains a website at CNBC.com. Their primary programming competitors are Bloomberg TV and the Fox Business Channel.
CNBC carries a real-time discussion of business news during the daytime hours and begins airing business documentaries and other types of programming, such as "60 Minutes" reruns, at 8 pm. Included are a running on-screen ticker tape and stories on current stocks and market fluctuations for the NYSE, S&P and Dow Jones averages and the Chicago Board of Trade. CNBC added global versions of the channel in Europe and Asia in the mid- 1990s.
Though CNBC appears to be very efficient in its reporting, at least during the tech bubble era of the 1990s, it has been the recipient of multiple criticisms over the years from outside economics experts and even some comedians, such as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. The problems with Jon Stewart began when CNBC representatives cancelled a scheduled appearance. CNBC has also been very critical of the Obama Administration's economic policies, with host Larry Kudlow describing the policies as a "war on investors."
Both Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel have, likewise, been critical of the administration's strategies. Fox News tends to be critical of the administration on an entire range of issues, generally criticizing nearly every move the Obama Administration makes, in particular program host Sean Hannity. CNBC stops short of the Fox pattern, but still uses market volatility as a major discussion point.
Contemporary criticisms suggest that CNBC's reporting standards and analysis have fallen in effectiveness during the past few years. The primary criticism that they are generally in league with many of the companies and the stock exchange industry, often giving a public relations spin that is disguised as objectivity.
Much of the criticism has also been leveled at Jim Cramer, host of the channel's Mad Money program. His show has many avid followers who often make their trading decisions based on Cramer's information, or misinformation as accused, with expert analysts from other media outlets claiming that Cramer often enhances his opinion of certain stocks forming a conflicting position. His show effective becomes a commercial for the stocks in question.
Regardless of the perceived conflicting misinformation, CNBC continues to be a leader in its niche in the television industry, while still competing with other channels that are not business oriented. The programming between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. is not necessarily business related, though it is not uncommon for business documentaries to air. By virtue of its international availability via satellite technology, CNBC maintains a large audience who are highly interested in the channel's essential focus on financial news and governmental financial policy.