NBC exec Jeff Zucker to take over as CNN chief

Michelle Clancy | 30-11-2012

Time Warner has announced a replacement for outgoing CNN chief Jim Walton: Long-time NBCUniversal top exec Jeff Zucker will take over at CNN Worldwide as president, beginning in January.

Zucker will oversee a portfolio of 23 branded news and information businesses that includes CNN/U.S., CNN International, CNN.com and HLN, which reaches more than 2 billion people in some 200 countries around the world. However, he has been appointed to the helm at a time of difficulty for the network group, which has faced all-time low ratings even as it has recorded record profits.

"Jeff's experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success," said Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting System. "He built and sustained the number–one brand in morning news, and under his watch NBC's signature news programming set a standard for quality and professionalism. As a programmer, a brand–builder and a leader, he will bring energy and new thinking to CNN. I couldn't be happier to welcome him or more excited about what he'll accomplish here."

Zucker started his 25–year career with NBC as a researcher for NBC Sports' coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games and rose to president and CEO of NBCUniversal. He was named executive producer of Today in January 1992; under his eight–year leadership, the programme was the most–watched morning news show and the most profitable programme on television. Zucker went on to executive–produce NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and the network's coverage of the Persian Gulf War, the 1993 and 1997 presidential inaugurations and the 2000 elections. He was promoted to president of NBC Entertainment, president of the NBC Entertainment News & Cable group and president and CEO of the NBCUniversal Television Group. Zucker is now executive producer of the syndicated daytime show Katie, which showcases longtime news personality Katie Couric.

"I am thrilled to join the distinguished team of journalists across the worldwide platforms of CNN," said Zucker. "The global reach and scale of the CNN brand is unparalleled in all of news. Outside of my family and the Miami Dolphins, there is nothing I am as passionate about as journalism. I spent the most rewarding years of my career as a journalist, and it's where I look forward to spending many more. I am grateful to Phil Kent for this opportunity, and I'm excited to return to daily newsgathering and compelling storytelling in a place that values those above all else."