After Sagging Ratings, CNN’s Chief Steps Down
Jim Walton, the embattled boss at CNN Worldwide, is now gone, at least that’s what he’s announced. He is going to hand over control of the company at the end of the year, making for a seamless transition after searching for a solid successor. The departure comes after Walton has been heavily criticized for not showing the vision and leadership necessary for the company to become a network with a clear identity. This has led to sagging ratings for the network, and even though the company is profitable, it’s not competing well with its rivals.
“CNN needs new thinking,” Mr. Walton said. “That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through. And I’m ready for a change. I have interests to explore and I want to give myself time to do it.”
The CEO of Time Warner, the parent company that owns CNN Worldwide, has made it public that he is not happy with the way the network has been performing. Jeffrey Bewkes said that he supports “the decision that he and Phil Kent have reached.”
Bewkes gives Walton credit for turning around a company that had declining earnings back in 2003. The company is now making money, thanks to Walton, but the pressures of shareholder growth expectations can wear on even the most talented CEOs. IN spite of earning a record $600 million dollar operating profit, Walton still must deal with the fact that his company’s ratings are not as high as his rivals, MSNBC and Fox.
There are also the highly public mistakes made by the network, like misreporting the Supreme Court decision on the Obama Healthcare overhaul. As a result, the network hit a 20-year ratings low this year, leading some to be concerned that even during an election year, CNN can’t protect the value of its brand.
One name that has emerged as a possible successor to Walton is Jeff Zucker, the former CEO at NBC Universal.
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