India Special on Fox Business and Related Thoughts about Fox Business & CNBC

On Sunday July 26, Fox Business aired a one-hour special report on India by Shibani Joshi. We believe that Ms. Joshi is the first Indian-American Business TV reporter in America. So we confess to being a little partial towards her.

This Indian Special report was a collection of interviews by Ms. Joshi with executives of major American companies in India. Every interview was incisive and thorough.  The interviews showed the strong record of success by American companies in India, even troubled companies like GM. We would urge investors, especially emerging market investors, to watch the entire collection of Shibani’s clips.  In particular, we highlight the following clips:

We encourage readers to go to and search for “India” in the videos section. We were surprised to see the sheer number and the quality of the clips on India.

We were also astounded at the quality & power of the search function in Fox Business Videos. It makes the search function on look and feel so amateurish. If you search for “India” on, you will get the videos with India in the heading AND videos that have the word India in the transcript of the video. This is powerful and amazing. In addition, the foxbusiness website provides an Automatically Generated Transcript of each video. So convenient and helpful. Why can’t the CNBC website do that?

This FoxBusiness India special, as you have might have noticed, followed the traditional path to covering India. It focused on business sectors in the industrial or packaged foods business. What this India special lacked is the focus on India’s vibrant media and entertainment industries.

Newscorp, the parent of FoxBusiness, owns the second largest media company in India, STAR TV. It is a great, all-Indian network that is now expanding to the global Indian diaspora. We were hoping to see clips of STAR TV programming and insight into how Newscorp plans to take STAR TV India to the global market.

This is not just our Bollywood alter ego talking. Philippe Dauman, the Viacom CEO, could not stop talking about the success of their “Colors” network in India and he told CNBC that Viacom was bringing “Colors” to America. We watched “Colors” in Mumbai last December and we did not realize that “Colors” was an American-owned network. American TV networks are expanding in India to create Indian content and then export it to the global Indian diaspora. It is an exciting business opportunity and most network CEOs, like Viacom’s Dauman, are thrilled about it.

The name of Viacom’s network is perfect. India is all about bright colors and fun, loud joyous fun. This is where the FoxBusiness India special failed. As we watched the informative interviews, we kept looking for the spirit of India, the “Ras” if you will. We did not find it. 

Today, young Indian women have many avenues that were closed to them a generation ago. We know so many beautiful and talented Indian middle aged women who would have made great fashion models, TV anchors, musicians, stage artists and of course movie stars if they had the opportunity to do so in their youth. Instead, they ended up becoming Doctors, Surgeons, Lawyers and Accountants. What a loss!

The same is true about young men. We know middle aged successful Indian Doctors, Investment Bankers who wanted to play Cricket and succeed at it. But there was no money in it a generation ago. So their parents forced them to give up Cricket and other sports to concentrate on medicine, engineering or finance. They tell us that to this day, they regret missing that chance to play for Mumbai or India. Today, young men are practicing daily to become cricket stars, athletes and models. 

This is the young, vibrant India that was missing in the FoxBusiness special. This is big business and so it deserved a place. Do not forget that Hollywood and media in general is America’s second largest export industry.

We realize the lack of the “fun” or “joy” component in the Foxbusiness India special may not be Shibani’ fault. It may simply be the style of the FoxBusiness network. We do watch it from time to time and we find that it is a network with an edge. It reminds us of the Fox network of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity et al.

In our opinion and to our tastes, that is the wrong ambiance for Fox Business. Investing is a fun and enormously exciting art. You cry when your trades blow up and you come alive with joy when they work. Magic Johnson once said that basketball is so much fun that he would have played it even if there were no money in it. Passionate investors feel the same way.

It is this passion, excitement and fun that is the main difference between CNBC and Fox Business. Somehow, CNBC has learned to make its network fun and share the excitement with its viewers. They have created anchor combos that are fun to watch because they genuinely seem to like each other.

Mike Tyson went to India to shoot a Bollywood song in the movie “Fool N Final” (yes, Mike Tyson, the heavyweight boxing champion – check it out on Youtube). He enjoyed it immensely, he said. He added that the film set had great camaraderie and they had so much fun shooting the film. This is exactly what Richard LeFrak, the real estate billionaire, said to Joe Kernan of CNBC Squawk Box – that he enjoys watching the show because of the camaraderie of Squawk Box team. This is why we compared CNBC to Bollywood in our July 12, 2008 article Watching CNBC – A Bollywood Rasik’s Perspective

This may be an organizational culture issue. FoxBusiness is run, as we understand, by the same team that runs Fox News. So the two networks look and feel alike. In contrast, CNBC looks and feels nothing like MSNBC or NBC. It is a free standing network with its own unique culture.

If you do not believe us, consider the case of two colleagues at a another network who moved to FoxBusiness and CNBC respectively. Both of these people were serious, sometimes nasty, anchors at the old network. Brian Sullivan, who moved to FoxBusiness, remains the serious, sometimes scowling anchor at Fox Business. His colleague, Erin Burnett, used to be nasty at her old network and loved to bash her guests, figuratively speaking. That is why we nicknamed her the Irish Mace in our article Watching CNBC – A Bollywood Rasik’s Perspective (as opposed to our Italian Stiletto nickname for Maria Bartiromo). Look at Erin Burnett on CNBC. She is a totally different and fun personality who laughs and enjoys working with Mark Haines and Jim Cramer. 

We have a soft corner of sorts for Fox because it has given real opportunities to talented people from smaller ethnic minorities in America. We recall that CNN’s morning anchor Kiran Chetry got her chance at Fox & Friends. Therefore, as a friend, we suggest that Fox Business change its culture and embody more excitement and fun in its coverage. They have the on-air talent to do so effectively. At FoxBusiness, the message seems to be the central obsession. That does not work because it puts off people. If they get their ambiance right, the message will get through subtly and more effectively.

Finally, we have the sad but important duty to throw a flag on Shibani Joshi. We were appalled to hear her mispronounce Indian names, even simple names like Telang. That is totally unacceptable. It shows a lack of adequate preparation and it demonstrates visible disrespect. Reporters prepare for their interview by studying content. Is it too much to ask that they prepare a bit more by learning how to pronounce names of their guests? In our opinion, this borders on journalistic misconduct. We may be a little partial to Shibani Joshi but with that partiality come higher expectations.

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