Share this @internewscast.com
CNN will be returning to straight news reporting, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Wednesday, a departure from the 24-hour opinion channel it became under fired CEO Jeff Zucker.
‘People in America are looking for a place where people aren’t yelling and giving their opinions and they’re looking for more news. That’s what you’ll see from CNN,’ Zaslav told CNBC’s Squawkbox.
The media company boss discussed Zucker’s replacement, new CNN CEO Chris Licht, and spoke for the first time about why CNN+ crashed and burned.
Zaslav said that the Atlanta-based cable news company would steer away from the left-leaning advocacy outlet it had become.
‘We think that CNN is a critical asset to us. It’ a leader in news gathering around he world. Most of the cable networks around the world and here in the US are advocacy networks. There’re advocacy networks to the left, there’re advocacy networks to the right. We think there’s a real opportunity for CNN,’ he said making a motion in middle with his hand.’
Licht, a former producer for The Late Night With Steven Colbert, will soon begin a makeover that will see straight, unbiased news take priority over woke nightly preaching from ego-crazed hosts on eight-figure salaries.
‘Chris is going to be advocating for truth, he’s going to be advocating for facts , he’s going to be advocating for journal-ism first,’ Zaslav said. ‘I think there’s a very big lane for CNN.
The boss of CNN’s new parent company has confirmed the CNN+ streaming service was axed after just 22 days because of poor subscriber numbers.
Zaslav told MSNBC Wednesday that there’d been ‘no message’ behind the axing of the $300 million megaflop beyond its exceptionally poor sign-up rate.
‘On CNN+ there was no message,’ he said. ‘It was a business decision.’
‘We looked at it. We looked at the data. They had spent an enormous amount of money trying to sell an independent product.
‘The subscribers weren’t there. The users weren’t there. We looked at it together. We had a chance to look at all the data, and when we looked at the data the business wasn’t there.’
CNN+, which would charge $5.99 per month, had only attracted 150,000 subscribers in the first few weeks. Axed former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker spent $300 million on the service, which was axed on April 27 with the loss of 300 jobs.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav said that Americans are looking for a news source where people aren’t yelling at them or giving their opinion
After spending $300 million, CNN+ was shutdown and 300 employees were fired within weeks of launching
Former CEO Jeff Zucker, left, stepped down form his position in early April as it was revealed he had a relationship with CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer Allison Gollust, right, who stepped down from her position a few weeks after
‘This isn’t show friends. This is show business. We’re very disciplined. We invest where we think we can get returns.’
It’s unclear if that was intended as a swipe at Zucker who made it a point to befriend the network’s on-air talent like Chris Cuomo, who was also fired from the network after it was revealed that he used his press contact to go after the women who accused his brother New York Governor Andrew of sexual harassment.
Andrew Cuomo resigned from office an a New York State Attorney General investigation found that he had acted inappropriately with 11 women.
Zaslav told Squawkbox that it was time for the network to stop chasing business trends after the downturn in Netflix, a leader in the streaming business, which laid of 1500 employees this week after it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022.
‘It is about streaming and about streaming growth, but it’s also about business fundamentals. It’s about free cashflow. It’s about earnings. We’re larger than any of the broadcasters and their portfolios and we go to market with a real good business, a traditional business,’ Zaslav said.
Zucker, who was bounced by the Atlanta-based cable news network amid news that he failed to disclose an affair with the company’s marketing executive Alison Gollust, moved the network from its foundation of straight report to a 24-hour network of talking heads spouting opinions.
Zucker was replaced by Chris Licht, who has said he wants the focus of the news channel to be on ‘straightforward facts’ and ‘insightful commentary’
Former Fox News host Chris Wallace was reportedly paid $9 million per year to join CNN+
CNN had spent somewhere between $100 million to $200 million for advertising on CNN+
Stars of CNN+ including Kasie Hunt (third left), Chris Wallace (next to Hunt) and Anderson Cooper (third right) are seen on March 28 celebrating the launch of the streaming service
CNN+ had promised to be a new frontier in the news business, offering original programming separate from what the company airs on its news channel.
One top producer even went as far to call the streaming service CNN’s Apollo Mission – comparing it to the successful moon landing, the Wall Street Journal reports, and network recruiters told potential hires it was prepared to spend $1 billion over four years on the endeavor.
TIMELINE OF ZUCKER AND GOLLUST’S OPEN SECRET’ ROMANCE
1986: Zucker hired as an Olympics researcher for NBC
1989: Zucker starts working as producer on Today
1996: Zucker marries his NBC colleague Caryn
2000: Zucker promoted to president of entertainment at NBC after boosting ratings on Today
He meets Gollust at NBC.
2003: Zucker promoted to head of news, cable and entertainment at NBC
2005: Zucker becomes head of NBC Universal, new umbrella brand
2007: Zucker becomes President and CEO of NBC Universal
2010: Zucker leaves NBC, taking a package of between $30m-$40m dollars
2011: Zucker joins Katie Couric as producer on her ABC show
2012: Zucker joins CNN
2018: Zucker and his wife Caryn split
2021: Zucker announces plans to leave the company at the end of the year. He then said he would stay on until TimeWarner’s deal with Discovery was complete
It had drawn some major talent, including former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, actress Eva Longoria, and chef Alison Roman.
But after Zaslav found out that it was only being streamed by 5,000 to 10,000 people at any given moment – he decided to pull the plug.
By April 21, Licht told staff that CNN+ was ending.
The company had promised to provide positions for the staff members it laid off with positions elsewhere in the company, and those who were not placed in other positions, the Journal reports, will get six months severance pay as long as they do not leave the company within 90 days.
It also kept some of its major talent though, including Wallace, whom it reportedly promised $9 million per year, according to The New York Post.
He is now thought likely to take over the 9pm slot on CNN left vacant after the firing of Chris Cuomo in December.
Licht has said previously that he wants the focus of the news channel to be on ‘straightforward facts’ and ‘insightful commentary.’
He wrote in a memo to staff earlier this month: ‘I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics of journalism: fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.’
The 50-year-old continued: ‘First and foremost, we should, and we will be advocates for the truth.’
An insider also told DailyMail.com Licht’s influence will be steering the network into the right direction but that there’s still a lot of changes to be done.
‘This is a new day for CNN. Chris will be able to make the important changes that will set our news organization up for success.’
They continued: ‘He’s a good guy and won’t run the organization as a cult of personality like Jeff did.’
The source added improved ratings will follow if the new boss returns the channel to ‘its roots in news gathering.’