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Summary:

CNN, struggling to find an identity and rebuild its audience, has turned to an old-time TV stalwart. Jeffrey Zucker, the former CEO of NBC, is expected to be formally named CNN President shortly.

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CNN is reportedly hiring the former CEO of NBC-Universal, Jeffrey Zucker, to help rescue the TV network from low ratings and a long-running identity crisis.

[UPDATE: The news became official Thursday morning:

The choice of Zucker, whose impending hiring was first reported today by the LA Times and then by the NY Times, to lead CNN seems at first blush to be a strange choice by parent company Time Warner.

Although he presided over the long-running success of the Today show, Zucker has been away from the news business for a decade and away from NBC for two years. At a time when TV is being disrupted by new platforms and social media, Zucker very much fits the mold of an old-line TV executive — such as his new boss at Time Warner, Jeff Bewkes, who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of so-called cord-cutters to the business.

This doesn’t mean Zucker will not succeed. It just means he will have to navigate waves of disruptive technology while also finding an identity for CNN.

The network has floundered in recent years and can only pull in an audience for brief spurts during a major news event like a war or presidential election. In the meantime, rivals like Fox and MSNBC have carved out a role as partisan squawk boxes for liberals or conservatives. Here’s some Twitter reaction:

(Image by Katherine Welles via Shutterstock)

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  1. Maybe it’s just a sign of the times. Fox has been dominating the ratings for the past several years and has never looked back followed by cnn a distant 2nd. It boils down to viewer loyalty – Fox news has built a very stable brand that is effectively working for it advertisers pitching there brands on the network.
    CNN started its broadcasting debut in August of 1981. The CNN brand has possibly become stale due to its age. However, with a good push from a strong visionary looking in to digital media as one of the main sources to overcome the networks rating crisis – Jeffrey Zucker is the man to rebound CNN back onto the top of the ratings.

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