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CNN (s twx) 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:
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) November 29, 2012
The choice of Zucker, whose impending hiring was first reported today by the LA Times and then by the NY Times(s nyt), 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:
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 28, 2012
— Rosental(@Rosental) November 28, 2012
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 28, 2012
(Image by Katherine Welles via Shutterstock)