CNN Names Media Veteran Mark Thompson as New CEO

CNN said on Wednesday that British media veteran Mark Thompson will be its next CEO, as the news organization tries to reverse a ratings downturn.

Thompson, the former director-general of the BBC as well as the former president and CEO of The New York Times Company, will start on October 9, according to CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.

He replaces beleaguered previous CEO Chris Licht, who stepped down in June after facing criticism for editorial decisions such as a town hall meeting with former President Donald Trump that was dominated by supporters screaming and jeering at moderator Kaitlan Collins.

“Mark has a formidable record, and I have long admired his leadership and ability to inspire organizations to raise their own ambitions and sense of what’s possible — and achieve it,” said David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, in a statement.

“I am confident he is exactly the leader we need to take the helm of CNN at this pivotal time.”

Thompson was the BBC’s director-general from 2004 to 2012, before taking over The New York Times Company from 2012 to 2020, during which time the respected American daily achieved huge digital transitions and saw its subscriptions skyrocket, with more than 10 million in 2023.

CNN has endured a string of recent crises, including plummeting ratings and earnings, as well as a series of high-profile departures, including Chris Cuomo, who was sacked for assisting his brother, Andrew Cuomo, in defending the former New York governor against sexual misconduct charges.

In February 2022, former CNN president and influential media executive Jeff Zucker resigned after it was revealed that he had failed to declare a romantic involvement with a coworker.

Among Thompson’s first missions will be launching CNN Max, the company’s streaming service, on September 27.

A previous foray into streaming, CNN+, was scrapped at a loss in April 2022, just weeks after its launch.

The decision was made by new management after CNN’s former parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery earlier that month.

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