CEO Chris Licht’s plan to take CNN back to its newsy roots has support from the Warner Bros. The top-down approach to the Discovery board has lower ups in the newsroom concerned about their editorial autonomy.
Speak with the Financial TimesLicht explained that his goal is to make journalism more prominent and less opinionated, which will help reduce how much the network has been subjected to during Trump’s presidency. His vision is to transform the OG cable news station into something special. “more like a newspaper,” With less focus on politics, more emphasis on sports and breaking news. “in the hope it might keep viewers glued, even on slow days.”
The CEO, who took over for Jeff Zucker in May, believes that the network’s offerings needed to be toned down.
“If everything is a crisis, if everything is 11, if everything is breaking news, then no one listens when there actually is a crisis,” He told the FT. “When you say, ‘No, no — really — the house is on fire now.’”
But that doesn’t mean that CNN will have no viewpoint.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about my vision is that I want to be vanilla, that I want to be centrist. That is bulls—,” Licht spoke to the FT. “You have to be compelling. You have to have edge. In many cases you take a side. Sometimes you just point out uncomfortable questions. But either way you don’t see it through a lens of left or right.”
CNN is in dire need of a turnaround. Its poor ratings during election night when it was behind MSNBC were evidenced by its pathetic performance. MSNBC drew 3.2 million viewers to CNN’s 2.6 million. Together, they still fell short of Fox News’s 7.4 million. While revenue, ad sales, and profit have all fallen, costs have risen.
“I hate to say it but when I look ahead, I see problems without end,” One CNN executive spoke to the FT.
The company is expected to lay off potentially hundreds of CNN staffers by year’s end amid major cuts that aim to trim costs by $100 million. Warner Bros. is the new parent. According to the FT, Discovery has $47.5 Billion in outstanding debt. “under investor pressure to cut billions of dollars in expenses through a restructuring.” David Zaslev, CEO of CNN is reorganizing the company’s various units. He was appointed to this position in April.
However, the FT reported that CNN still generates significant cash. The profit for this year is estimated at $700 to $750 millions, citing three sources familiar with the accounts. But that is almost half a billion dollars down on CNN’s peak profitability under Zucker, who steered the network to its more opinion-heavy lineup.
Warner Bros. The Discovery Board is focused on long-term goals, according to the FT. They want to rebuild the CNN brand they believe in, “tarnished by left-leaning advocacy” The key to your future.
However, the report found that Zucker still has some loyalties and CNN’s disgruntled executive are concerned about editorial independence. They believe that trying to eradicate partisanship in today’s climate could prove futile.
“I never remember a single advertiser complaining that the talent was too opinionated,” According to one senior executive, the FT. “Look, there is no audience in the middle. It doesn’t exist. It’s a mirage.”