With markets away, news still plays


NEW YORK -- Monday's sharp fall in overseas stock markets made for big business news on TV on a day when the U.S. markets were closed.

It was a huge story for some of the news networks, including Fox Business Network, CNN and Fox News Channel. FBN had the most extensive live coverage. CNBC, following long-standing tradition when the U.S. markets are shut, ran only taped programming. It didn't take the day off completely, however: CNBC on-air reporters were a part of NBC's coverage on "Today" and "NBC Nightly News."

All of the networks were preparing for a big news day Tuesday, when the Asian and European markets would have another go and the U.S. exchanges would be back from the three-day weekend.

Although CNBC ran taped programming throughout the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it offered coverage of the markets online.

"The U.S. markets are closed, and just as the Wall Street Journal isn't publishing today, we have focused all of our editorial energy online and tomorrow when the U.S. markets are live," CNBC senior vp Jonathan Wald said Monday.

CNBC began its coverage of Asian markets simulcasting CNBC Asia online then was scheduled to move to live coverage at 4 a.m. EST Tuesday. Wald said the planning process was ongoing but that it would continue to report strongly as it had since the subprime mortgage crisis began.

FBN, which began operations Oct. 15, made a full-court press on the story at a time when its better-distributed rival took the day off. While the network was planning to be live all day anyway, it also gave the most time to the Asian and European markets as well as analysis about what it would mean for investors Tuesday.

Stuart Varney told viewers that the Dow Jones futures index indicated trouble ahead for the U.S. stock markets but said that perhaps the European markets would show a positive trend Tuesday.

"That is by no means a certainty," Varney said. Fox Business anchor David Asman was on the air in midafternoon with Liz Claman, as well as hosting a special one-hour panel discussion titled "How to Stay Up in a Down Market" that would help viewers to do just that.

CNN's Ali Velshi and Susan Lisovicz provided coverage throughout the day. Velshi said it was ironic that it was such a big markets day even with the U.S. markets closed for the holiday.

He spent the day on the phone with investors, traders and CNN colleagues, working the story and getting ready for whatever happens Tuesday.

"I wouldn't have told you on most days that it would be fruitful to be staffed on a day when the U.S. markets were closed," Velshi said. "But while we think of it as a holiday, the world and the world of business is not taking as a holiday."