Warner Bros. Discovery named former New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson as CNN’s new chairman and CEO, succeeding Chris Licht as head of the struggling cable news outlet.
“Mark has been in the news business for more than four decades and, as many of you are aware, he has an exceptional track-record of innovation and excellence,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav told CNN employees in a staff memo on Wednesday.
“I am confident he is exactly the leader we need to take the helm of CNN at this pivotal time.”
Zaslav said that Thompson will assume the helm at CNN beginning Oct. 9.
Thompson — who helped revitalize the Times’ finances by growing its digital subscriber base as the newspaper’s chief executive from 2012 to 2020 — would succeed Licht, who left the network in June after about a year in the role.
Licht’s departure was abrupt and his short tenure at the helm was beset by poor ratings, dwindling profits and talent shakeups.
He came into the top job without prior experience in managing a major news operation and was portrayed as insecure about his position in a profile in The Atlantic ahead of his ousting.
Thompson, 66, is coming to the role with years of experience and has collaborated with Zaslav in years past.
Before running The New York Times Company, Thompson was managing the BBC as its director general.
Zaslav is believed to have wanted Thompson from early on in the recruitment process, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The former Times CEO is expected to take the reins of CNN at a trying time for the cable network.
The station lags far behind rivals Fox News and MSNBC in ratings and a string of controversies among now-ousted CNN anchors and top leadership like Chris Cuomo, Jeff Zucker and Don Lemon has created instability among staffers.
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