WSJ disagreed with show's 'future direction'

NEW YORK — For the second time in six months, CNBC is changing its primetime schedule.

The financial news cabler pulled its Friday 9 p.m. panel discussion, “Wall Street Journal Editorial Board With Stuart Varney” off the air last week. Beltway econo-gabber “Capital Report,” which runs the same hour from Tuesday through Thursday, will replace it.

The current events panel featured various Journal journos such as outgoing editorial-page editor Robert Bartley and editorial-page director Paul Gigot; paper often advertised the show in its op-ed section.

Stuart Varney, a Peabody-winning cable news vet who moderated discussion, has left the network.

While CNBC would not comment on the cancellation, a small announcement in the Wall Street Journal Friday explained that “in the course of long-planned renegotiations, CNBC and the Journal failed to agree on the future direction of the program.”

In the U.S., WSJ parent company Dow Jones and CNBC have a licensing agreement under which Journal reporters appear on the air and Dow Jones receives a share of the advertising revenue.

The two media orgs also have joint venture projects in CNBC Asia Pacific and CNBC Europe.

Dow Jones veepee of corporate communications Brigitte Trafford stressed that the relationship between the two companies remains as “strong as ever.”

Perhaps, but the 9 p.m. program doesn’t seem to be have been dropped over problems in the ratings.

In the first quarter of 2002, the show brought in an average total of 155,000, compared to 154,000 in the last quarter, according to Nielsen Media Research. (CNBC doesn’t recognize Nielsen as a true measure of its viewership, claiming that it doesn’t track a large part of net’s wealthy, itinerant auds.)

In comparison, the entire net was down 44%, while the primetime schedule remained flat from the first half of 2002 to the second half.

The program that will replace it, “Capital Report,” averaged 172,000 viewers in 2002 and has averaged only 154,000 viewers in the second half of the year.

Those numbers may pick up, however, with the addition of “Face the Nation” co-anchor Gloria Borger, who will join Alan Murray as a co-host of the program.

Borger, who has moved to cable after a five-year stint with Bob Schieffer at the Sunday Beltway gabber, will also contribute to NBC News programming and continue to write columns for U.S. News and World Report. She will also continue appearances on the PBS program “Washington Week.”

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