CNBC to host GOP debate

Republican forum to focus on economic issues

CNBC will host its first presidential debate, a Republican forum on economic issues, just days before it gets competition from Fox Business Network.

CNBC will air the debate, and likely provide its moderator, after markets close at 4 p.m. Oct. 9. The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC are co-sponsors, and MSNBC will re-air the debate at 9 ET the same night.

Debate will be held in Dearborn, Mich., home of Ford Motor Co., and a swing state where Reagan Democrats broke a generation of labor-led Democratic dominance of presidential politics.

“This debate will focus on issues that are at the heart of any presidential campaign: namely the economy, taxes, fiscal discipline and government regulation,” said CNBC prexy Mark Hoffman.

Debate airs less than a week before the debut of Fox Business Network, which goes live in 30 million homes Oct. 15.

CNBC hasn’t faced any direct competition other than Bloomberg TV since CNNfn closed down in 2004. The network has been eager to strengthen its lineup before Fox goes online, and a presidential debate is the kind of halo event that could bring additional attention to the network.

It also gives CNBC the opportunity to flaunt its ongoing relationship with the Wall Street Journal, even as Dow Jones passes into News Corp. ownership.

News Corp.’s acquisition of Dow Jones is considered a coup for the nascent Fox Business Network, but it’s locked in a content deal with CNBC until 2012.

The debate adds another televised event to an already crowded fall. There are 15 televised debates scheduled before the end of January; nine for the Democrats and six for the Republicans.

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