Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said that CNN is working on revamping its news approach amid a rating debacle and that he expects the left-leaning network to become a platform that gives voice to Democrats and Republicans.
Variety magazine indicated that Zaslav, during Allen & Company’s “summer camp for billionaires” in Sun Valley, Idaho, told reporters that a more objective approach to CNN’s programming would appeal to a broader audience in the long run.
“Journalism first. America needs a news network where everybody can come and be heard; Republicans, Democrats,” Zaslav said. “I think you’re seeing more of that at CNN. We’re not going to look at the ratings and, in the long run, it’s going to be worth more.”
Zaslav, whose company groups CNN, Warner Bros., HBO, Animal Planet and TLC, took his first step at the helm of the left-leaning network by hiring Chris Licht in the executive management position to replace Jeff Zucker.
The businessman also told Variety that the decision to place Licht at the helm of CNN was the right one and that the former executive producer of CBS’ The Late Show is “doing a great job.”
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CNN, on the road to impartiality?
According to an Axios report, Licht is looking to move the network away from its partisan stance and wonders if the TV personalities who dominated polarization during the Trump administration will be able to “adapt” to the company’s new priorities.
Close sources indicated that some presenters could be fired if they cannot adjust the talent to a more objective and less partisan stance.
“Licht wants to give personalities that may appear polarizing a chance to prove they’re willing to uphold the network’s values so that they don’t tarnish CNN’s journalism brand. For on-air talent, that includes engaging in respectful interviews that don’t feel like PR stunts. For producers and bookers, that includes making programming decisions that are focused on nuance, not noise”.
According to the latest Nielsen reports, cited by the New York Post, CNN’s ratings in June were the lowest of the year. The network’s audience was down 3% in June, reaching 487,000 viewers per day, with only 104,000 viewers in its most important demographic group: 25-54 year-olds.
One of the programs that felt the audience hit hardest was Reliable Sources, hosted by Brian Stelter, whose viewership was the lowest since 2019.
While Zaslav did not name any specific network personality, the Axios report noted that Stelter and Jim Acosta have become “the face of the network’s liberal shift.”