CNBC purchases rights to “Nightly Business Report,” saves show

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Nightly Business Report,” the 34-year-old nightly business news show that airs on public television stations across the country, will start being produced by CNBC, according to a deal announced Thursday afternoon.

The program had lost its key sponsor, Templeton Franklin Investments, at the end of August, and had been underwritten by its current owner. But executives involved with the program stressed that operating model was not sustainable, so CNBC’s involvement will keep the show going.

“The key point for us is that it survive,” said Cynthia Fenneman, president and CEO of American Public Television, in a phone interview. “Without this, the show would likely not to continue to exist.”

Current co-anchor Tom Hudson will be replaced by Tyler Mathisen. Susie Gharib, the other co-anchor, will remain on the show, which plans to keep its current format.

The first CNBC-produced “Nightly Business Report” show will air on March 4 from the business news network’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. It has previously been broadcast from WPBT2 in Miami and from a New York studio. “Nightly Business Report” launched in Miami in January 1979. It became a national program in 1981.

“For us, we see this as a way to add to our comprehensive suite of multimedia products,” said Nik Deogun, senior vice president and editor in chief of CNBC, in a telephone interview with Talking Biz News on Thursday afternoon. “This is a way for us to address the public television market with very high-end business news.”

Journalists currently working for the show will be able to apply for jobs with CNBC, said Deogun.

“We will be interviewing people from NBR,” said Deogun. “We have a lot of respect for Tom, but we like the combination that we have. It is a great brand with a long tradition. We’re happy to keep it on public television and keep that great brand.”

The show will be able to tap into CNBC’s 200 journalists and nine bureaus, added Deogun.

The show, which has been based out of Miami since 1979, has been undergoing some dramatic changes in recent years, including being sold twice before.

“We started this show way before CNBC, and it’s been a show that has really stood the test of time,” said Linda O’Bryon, who was one of the original co-anchors of “Nightly Business Report” and its founding executive editor. “I think it has helped to foster a better understanding of the economy. I like forward to seeing this new chapter.”

Atalaya Capital Management acquired the program for an undisclosed price in November 20111. Six-year-old Atalaya is based in New York and has primarily been an acquirer of corporate and real estate debt. Terms of Atalaya’s sale of the program to CNBC were not disclosed.

The show was acquired in 2010 by Mykalai Kontilai, who had been overhauling its operations before selling it to Atalaya.

In addition, the show has closed its Chicago bureau, resulting in the layoffs of seven staffers, in December 2012. The show laid off eight people in November 2010. Last year, its managing editor and executive vice president lost their jobs.

In an email to Talking Biz News, Hudson thanked his co-workers.

“I am very proud of the work we accomplished at NBR,” he said. “This is the program that helped invent modern financial television news more than 30 years ago.  I consider myself honored to have worked with all the professional broadcasters considered part of the NBR family.  Working to fulfill the high expectations of the NBR audience every night has been a rewarding experience.  Working alongside NBR’s talented staff has been among the professional highlights of my career.  I thank the viewers, underwriters, our public television member stations and my co-workers for the opportunity.

“The correspondents, producers, editors, videographers, associate producers, graphic producers, web editors and production personnel are the heart and soul of NBR,” added Hudson. “I thank them for their skills, creativity and collaboration.”

CNBC will continue to produce “Nightly News Brief,” a short synopsis of the day’s business news events, for public television stations, and will also support the program’s website, NBR.com.

Mathisen had actually talked to the show about replacing long-time anchor Paul Kangas when he left the show at the end of 2009, but was not willing to move to Miami, the show’s longtime base.