David Zaslav needs to set CNN aside from ‘advocacy networks’

Warner Bros. Discovery boss David Zaslav wishes CNN to focus on the small print and set itself aside from a cable-news enterprise that he says is monopolized by “advocacy networks.”

Zaslav, who took the helm of the model new agency this week, wasted no time laying out his imaginative and prescient for the media behemoth, which contains HBO, CNN, TLC, HGTV and movie studio Warner Bros. AT&T spun off WarnerMedia in a $43 billion merger with Discovery, which closed ultimate Friday.

In an hour-long interview Thursday with Oprah Winfrey at a theater on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., Zaslav tackled questions on the way in which ahead for CNN, along with the company’s quite a few streaming selections and his $3 billion worth monetary financial savings plan.

The CEO knowledgeable Winfrey that CNN should be about reporting and actuality and particulars. “If we get that, we can have a civilized society,” he acknowledged. “And with out it, if all of it turns into advocacy, we don’t have a civilized society.”

David Zaslav, the CEO of the model new Warner Bros. Discovery, acknowledged he would focus on amping up CNN’s exhausting data reporting.
Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

CNN has been beneath a microscope for lots of the 12 months over its mishandling of high-profile scandals beneath former boss Jeff Zucker. Chief amongst them was Zucker’s coping with of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, whom he fired in December. The anchor was discovered to be secretly aiding the protection of his embattled older brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, over sexual harassment allegations that resulted in his resignation.

Shortly after, Zucker resigned in February, citing a romantic relationship with a colleague. The imbroglio induced an uproar amongst CNN staffers, who’ve been indignant about Zucker’s exit and the thought that Cuomo would get a large severance bundle, no matter breaking journalistic necessities related to safety of his brother.

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Nevertheless even sooner than that, billionaire media mogul John Malone — an in depth confidant of Zaslav — and a board member of the blended agency, criticized CNN for its slanted safety.

The Cable News Network (CNN) logo adorns the top of CNN's offices on the Sunset Strip
CNN has been weighed down by scandal in present months, following the departures of anchor Chris Cuomo and longtime boss Jeff Zucker.
Getty Images

“I want to see CNN evolve once more to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which is perhaps distinctive and refreshing,” Malone acknowledged throughout a CNBC interview ultimate November. “I do take into account good journalism could have a job on this future portfolio that Discovery-TimeWarner’s going to characterize.”

Under Zucker’s successor, Chris Licht, an authorities producer with stints at “The Late Current with Stephen Colbert” and “MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CNN is anticipated to get an overhaul that options additional exhausting data and fewer opinion programming, sources knowledgeable The Submit.

This accommodates taking a extra in-depth check out the method behind the neighborhood’s new streaming service CNN+, along with additional broadly, taking a scalpel to redundancies on the media huge’s streaming firms, equal to HBO Max and Discovery+.

All through Thursday’s meeting, Zaslav warned that staff reductions have been doable as he continued to take away layers of administration and combines jobs. As part of the CEO’s focus on worth monetary financial savings, he reiterated his plans to combine every firms.

A general view shows the stage during a walk-through before a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas
CNN has been beneath hearth for transferring from its journalistic roots, in direction of additional slanted political safety.
Getty Images

“We don’t have to go to eight areas. We have to go to 1 place, and we have to see each factor we have to see,” Zaslav acknowledged consumers knowledgeable Discovery on the time, consistent with The Wall Road Journal. “As soon as we put all of it collectively, we now have been far more worthwhile.”

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Hollywood insiders anxious about that method as a result of it might bury among the many media huge’s enormous content material materials. Others have been additional concerned that Zaslav would focus an extreme quantity of on cost-cutting, and puzzled. if the CEO has the “stomach” to spend on big-budget films and TV reveals to gasoline agency growth whereas in cost-cutting mode.

They acknowledged Zaslav might need sticker shock, as a result of the budgets are so much bigger in film than on actuality TV, which makes up the vast majority of Discovery’s enterprise.

“He’s a very wise man,” a studio exec knowledgeable The Submit final month, shrugging off that concern. “I really feel he’s as a lot because the obligation.”