CNN chief executive and chairman Chris Licht have been ousted from the network. The newsman, who took over as the chief just last year, stepped down on Wednesday, after a series of missteps that plummeted CNN’s ratings and stocks.
David Zaslav, the chief executive of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, announced the development to the company employees. The move comes less than a week after The Atlantic published a 15,000-word story criticizing Licht’s leadership and pointing out the disappointment among CNN employees.
CNN CEO and Chairman Chris Licht Fired from the Network
As per sources, the decision was made by Zaslav over the last weekend. He shared a note with staffers on Wednesday to confirm the development: “This morning we are announcing that Chris Licht will be leaving CNN and we will be conducting a wide search, internally and externally, for a new leader.”
“I wanted you to hear this news directly from me as it impacts you and your teams. I have known Chris for many years and have enormous respect for him, personally and professionally. This job was never going to be easy, especially at a time of great disruption and transformation, and Chris poured his heart and soul into it.”
Licht has not yet commented on the matter. The executive had replaced Jeff Zucker in May 2022, when the latter was forced to resign after an affair scandal in the company. Licht was personally chosen by Zaslav and was the first major hire after the merger of Discovery with CNN’s former parent company, WarnerMedia.
CNN Went Through a Tough Phase Under Licht’s Leadership
During Licht’s tenure, CNN faced historically low ratings, along with layoffs, the firing of anchors, and a decrease in profits. Shortly after taking over the reins last year, he had to announce the shutdown of the $100 million streaming service CNN+. His credibility was further tarnished when he hosted a town hall with Donald Trump in May this year.
The former President made false claims at the town hall and even insulted moderator Kaitlan Collins. CNN ratings plummeted further after the airing of the show. The final nail in the coffin was The Atlantic report which came out last week, and detailed how Licht failed in his leadership and caused unrest among CNN staffers.
The Network will Now be Led by Three Executives
Warner Bros. Discovery is now looking for a replacement for Licht. Till that time, the network will be led by three executives. “We have put in place a solid transition plan with the appointment of an acting leadership team made up of experienced programming executives,” announced Zaslav.
“Amy Entelis, EVP, Talent & Content Development, Virginia Moseley, EVP, Editorial, and Eric Sherling, EVP, U.S. Programming, along with David Leavy, COO, on the commercial side. We have great confidence in this group and will fully support them until a new CEO is named. We are in good hands, allowing us to take the time we need to run a thoughtful and thorough search for a new leader,” he added.
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