Closed captions on CNNfn give floor a stock option

Young cabler will go head to head with CNBC after installing service

NEW YORK — CNNfn today will begin offering closed captioning of its daily business programming.

Industry insiders called the move a direct grab for increased viewership — and a direct hit on CNBC.

As a result of the launch, the young and relatively small cabler will now go head-to-head with CNBC’s daily programming on TV monitors located on the hectic and noisy floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The move also is expected to increase viewership among the hearing impaired.

CNBC’s programs have been closed captioned since January 1996. At that time, CNBC became the only televised biz programming to be seen on the NYSE floor — until today.

“It was driving (CNN exec VP) Lou Dobbs crazy that CNBC was exclusively seen on the Exchange floor,” one insider said.

CNNfn currently is in an estimated 8 million homes (and not rated by Nielsen Media research), compared with CNBC’s 64 million outlets. During the fourth quarter, CNBC reached 213,000 households with its live biz coverage that runs from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (all closed captioned). CNNfn’s closed-captioned programming will run 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Dobbs said closed captioning will add an important dimension to CNNfn. Sources said the move will make the cabler more attractive to advertisers in that “they’ll have added cache in being able to say they’re on the floor now.”

Closed captioning represents what sources called a “major investment” on the part of CNNfn, carrying a pricetag of “several hundreds of thousands of dollars” a year.

“Competition is always good,” CNBC spokesman George Jamison said. “But we’re not worried about CNNfn’s move having any impact on us.”

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