- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Financial journalist Louis Rukeyser returns to television next week with a new cable show that will go head to head with "Wall Street Week," the PBS staple he was fired from in March.

"Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street" will debut April 19 on CNBC, the network announced yesterday. It will air Fridays at 8:30 p.m., the same time PBS airs "Wall Street Week."

CNBC said it will offer the show to any PBS station that wants to air it on Saturdays or Sundays.

"Anyone who liked the old show will like the new one," Mr. Rukeyser said. He declined to discuss the terms of his new deal.

The CNBC show will run without advertising but will have underwriters, the same format PBS uses for its show. Eventually, it could convert to a show with commercials, CNBC said.

Mr. Rukeyser, 69, will deliver his signature commentary at the beginning of each episode of the new show, just as he did on PBS. In addition, the roster of 22 panelists who appeared with him regularly on the PBS show will join him on the new show, he said.

Those panelists have not appeared on the PBS show since Mr. Rukeyser was fired after March 24.

"All 22 of them without any prompting from me or anyone associated with the new show told PBS to go jump in a lake," he said.

Mr. Rukeyser's ugly exit from PBS began when his producers at Maryland Public Television said they wanted to make a new version of "Wall Street Week" with Fortune magazine and include Mr. Rukeyser in a reduced role.

Mr. Rukeyser, who hosted the show for 32 years, objected. Maryland Public Television fired him after he complained about his treatment on the March 22 edition of "Wall Street Week."

In a statement, PBS Chief Operating Officer Wayne Godwin said: "The market will tell the tale. We are confident public television stations will embrace the new 'Wall Street Week With Fortune' and we think a healthy competition will serve us well."

Occidental Petroleum Corp., one of the underwriters of "Wall Street Week," dropped its sponsorship when PBS fired Mr. Rukeyser. Another underwriter, Oppenheimer Funds, said it will not renew its sponsorship deal when it expires in June.

Spokesmen for the companies said they would consider sponsoring Mr. Rukeyser's new CNBC show.

CNBC will seek "some sort of business arrangement" with the PBS stations that run "Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street," but it won't seek big fees, said Bruno Cohen, the network's executive vice president.

At least one PBS station, WLIW-TV (Channel 21) in New York, has already announced it will air Mr. Rukeyser's new show on Saturdays at 6:30 p.m.

A spokeswoman for WETA-TV (Channel 26) in Alexandria said it has not made a decision whether it will air Mr. Rukeyser's CNBC show.

Jeff Hankin, vice president of marketing and brand management for the Maryland Public Television stations, which includes WMPT-TV (Channel 22) in Annapolis, said it is "unlikely" to air the show "in light of Mr. Rukeyser's last appearance on our airwaves."

Mr. Rukeyser's PBS show drew roughly 2 million viewers each week, far outpacing other financial news programs like CNN's "Lou Dobbs Moneyline" and "Business Center" on CNBC.

CNBC has 82 million subscribers, but the network does not expect Mr. Rukeyser's new show to draw an audience as big as the one he had on PBS. Cable shows tend to draw smaller audiences because they are seen in fewer homes than broadcast programs.

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