Dennis Kneale's turbulent but entertaining tenure at CNBC is set to end, barring a last-minute plot twist. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Kneale, the business channel's media and technology editor and one of its most recognizable faces, is likely to leave after his current contract expires sometime in the next several weeks. He joined CNBC from Forbes magazine, where he was managing editor, in October 2007.

"There's an outside shot that he could still work out a deal," says one knowledgeable source, but it's exceedingly unlikely as CNBC has made it clear it's unwilling to re-up him at anything close to his current salary, believed to be around $500,000 a year. Kneale did not respond to a message left on his cell phone, and a network spokesman declined to comment, citing a policy against discussing personnel matters.

Although he's a well-known figure with a considerable reputation in business journalism, Kneale has had difficulty finding a groove at CNBC. For five months, he hosted his own show in prime time, but that was canceled last September. More recently, he was the co-host of Power Lunch, but that ended in June. Since then, he has openly discussed the possibility that CNBC wouldn't renew his deal.

His splashiest moments in the past three years have generally come at his own expense -- for instance, when he ranted about the "dickweed" bloggers who make fun of him, and when he drew jeers from fellow journalists for suggesting they ought to protect the powerful people they cover in order to ensure continued access.

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