NEW YORK, JULY 26 -- NBC today appointed senior network executive Albert Barber to head the company's year-old cable venture, the Consumer News and Business Channel.

Barber, 44, has been NBC's executive vice president and chief financial officer since 1987. Before that, he served in various managerial positions at General Electric Co., which bought NBC in June 1986. He replaces Michael Eskridge, who is leaving to form a broadcast management company.

Co-owned by NBC and Cablevision Systems Corp. of Long Island, CNBC has a staff of 275 and is seen in 16.8 million homes and offices in the United States, about half the number served by its older rival, New York-based Financial News Network.

Unlike FNN, CNBC isn't yet carried by cable in Manhattan and thus isn't seen by the influential Wall Street and advertising crowd. But Barber said he will work hard to get it shown by Manhattan cable operators.

Barber said one of his top priorities as president "is to get CNBC carried around the world," but as a business, consumer and financial news service, not as a rival to Ted Turner's general-news Cable News Network.

He said he might consider changing CNBC's prime-time operations, which consist mainly of interview shows, but added that "we are very pleased with our daytime programming" of financial and business news reports.

In May CNBC hired Andrew Friendly, a former "Entertainment Tonight" producer, to overhaul its prime-time programming.