The big boss at CNN may be staying around, despite initial questions following the huge merger of AT&T and Discovery media assets.
Jeff Zucker, 56, had planned to leave at the end of this year, surrendering his position as chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports as well as president of CNN Worldwide, but with his friend and Discovery CEO David Zaslav in place to run the merged company the landscape has changed.
An Axios story reported that nothing has been decided as yet.
Zucker “would probably” rethink his departure, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing an unnamed close associate of Zucker’s.
Zucker and Zaslav first met as rising executives at NBC in the 1990s, and Zucker has run the CNN news operation since 2013.
Among the hurdles in keeping Zucker would seem to be Zucker’s stance against AT&T’s news department cost-cutting through WarnerMedia.
But in a call on Monday after the merger announcement, Zaslav publicly allayed those concerns and came out in support of a strong future for CNN.
“Not only are we going to keep it,” Zaslav said in a news conference that included AT&T CEO John Stankey, but the he would be planning to “lean into news.”
Zaslav’s vision, he said, involves CNN becoming “a world leader in news.”
He added that CNN is “a core asset” moving forward.
“We’re not interested in selling it, and we’re going to invest in it,” he said.
Zaslav also said that the new media company will be growing the options making up CNN’s streaming menu – with streaming a major component of the company’s content distribution plans.
AT&T and Discovery have both launched general entertainment streaming platforms in the past year — HBO Max and Discovery+.
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