Brown bolts ‘Topic A’ for Princess Di

Former New Yorker editor mutes CNBC talker

NEW YORK — Tina Brown has ankled her CNBC show “Topic A With Tina Brown” in order to meet tight deadlines for a book about Princess Diana in a deal said to be worth $2 million.

The former editor of Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair and the New Yorker notified CNBC staff she plans to leave her Sunday night talker, which has drawn high-profile guests but struggled to find viewers.

“Tina has an extremely lucrative deal with Doubleday and aggressive deadlines,” said network prexy Mark Hoffman. “Once I learned of the size of her opportunity, I had to get out of the way.”

The last episode of “Topic A” will air May 29. The Doubleday book is set to publish in 2007 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Diana’s death.

As a talkshow host, Brown used her formidable connections to secure high-profile guests, including Tony Blair, Sumner Redstone and Sen. John McCain, but struggled to find an audience on Sunday night.

CNBC airs mostly infomercials on Sunday, and the show followed “The Wall Street Journal Report” at 8 p.m.

“I loved the show and I’ve had so much fun on TV,” Brown said. “We shed a light on smart books, smart documentaries, smart plays and showcased deep material. We looked for New Yorker-style subject matter.”

Brown said she plans to return to TV when she finishes the book. “Perhaps something different with CNBC or something similar on a different network,” she said.

“Topic A” has averaged 75,000 viewers this year, considerably fewer than the average CNBC primetime audience. The network claims it’s not accurately measured by Nielsen because many of its viewers watch in the workplace, viewing that is not included in the ratings.

Network canceled tennis great John McEnroe’s “McEnroe” in December after it garnered an average of 75,000 viewers over its six-month run.

Another CNBC show that’s struggled in the ratings, “The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch,” averaged 79,000 Nielsen viewers during the month of April.

Hoffman said he’s not sure what will replace Brown on Sunday. He’s considering a new pilot and another show repurposed from sister web NBC.

A rebroadcast of NBC’s “The Apprentice” is the net’s top-rated primetime show.

CNBC, a fixture on trading floors and financial institutions, typically peaks at 230,000 viewers when the financial markets close at 4 p.m. But after the business day ends, viewership plummets. CNBC averaged 124,000 viewers in primetime during the first quarter, a 40% drop from last year.