CNN Poised to Get (Another) New Leader, Mark Thompson, in Twisty Warner Tenure

Warner Bros. Discovery is widely expected to name Mark Thompson, the former New York Times Co. and BBC leader who has demonstrated a knack for guiding media into digital realms, as the latest executive to oversee CNN, according to a person familiar with the matter, putting in place the fifth executive structure around the news giant since early 2022.

Thompson’s name surfaced just a few days ago as someone who might be “in the mix” to run CNN, which has been under the aegis of four senior executives since the June ouster of Chris Licht, a popular TV producer whose tenure at the network was marred by a series of personnel moves that failed to gain ratings traction. His arrival is surprising to many insiders who believed CNN’s parent company was willing to let a quarter of senior executives — Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling, all CNN veterans, and David Leavy, a longtime consigliere of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who was brought in to handle business affairs.

There is an expectation among CNN staffers that Warner Bros. Discovery could announce the decision to hire Thompson as soon as Wednesday. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery did not respond to queries seeking comment. Thompson was first suggested as a candidate by Semafor, and Puck News on Tuesday night reported he was expected to be named head of CNN operations.

In Thompson, Warner Bros. Discovery no doubt hopes it has found someone who can stick around for at least a little while. CNN and its rivals are entering the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, typically a time that brings with it broader audiences, bigger ratings and the attendant ad dollars that often follow such elements. CNN has been grappling with ratings shortfalls for months, and few moves made by anyone at the outlet have reversed that condition.

His ascension may rattle anew CNN’s employee base, who have watched a quick succession of senior teams try to right the ship since the ouster of Jeff Zucker, CNN’s former leader. Zucker presided over an era of big profits and big profiles by encouraging anchors and correspondents to take on a more crusading demeanor on air, particularly during the Trump administration. But Zucker was ousted in the waning days of AT&T’s ownership of CNN’s corporate parent, WarnerMedia, after acknowledging a romantic relationship with the news company’s chief marketing officer, Allison Gollust.

Since that time, CNN has been under interim leadership twice and was managed for a year and a few months by Licht, whose tenure included significant staff layoffs and a ill-advised move of evening host Don Lemon to mornings. The most recent senior team has helped to stabilize CNN: overhauling the weekday and weekend schedule, and making the first moves to get CNN back into streaming. A previous effort, the standalone CNN+, was scuttled by Warner Bros. Discovery within days of the merger that created it.

It is unclear if Thompson will be any more successful than his predecessors. CNN is projected to see its subscriber base drop in 2024 to 66.3 million from 70.3 million in 2023, according to data from Kagan, a market-research unit of S&P Global Intelligence. Revenue from its cable and satellite distributors is seen falling to $1.032 billion, compared with $1.048 billion in 2023. Advertising revenue, however, is expected to be buoyed by the 2024 presidential election, and increase to $576.1 million, compared with $562.6 million in 2023.

More to come….

Read More About:

Source: Read Full Article