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New CNN chief not planning large layoffs at network: report

Signage is seen at CNN center, Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Atlanta. The pantheon of colossal business failures has a new member in the CNN+ streaming service. The news network’s subscription offering hadn’t even been operating for a month before Warner Bros. Discovery announced this week that it would be shutting down on April 30. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Chris Licht, who started in his new role as president of CNN this week, told employees during a town hall event on Thursday he did not anticipate making large cuts to the network’s staff, according to a new report.

“This is an organization that has had gut punch after gut punch after gut punch,” Licht said after being asked about the proposition of layoffs, according to an audio recording of the town hall event obtained by The New York Times. “And most of the organizations out there wouldn’t have survived.”

Licht also said he was aiming to “try some things at 9 o’clock,” in reference to the prime time slot formerly occupied by anchor Chris Cuomo, who was fired by the network last year following an ethics scandal.

“Let’s have some fun with it. Let’s just try some things. But my intention is to have a show ready to launch in the fall at 9 o’clock,” Licht reportedly said.

A former top producer for CBS’s “The Late Show,” Licht begins his tenure at CNN following a tumultuous span of several months during which the network’s former president was forced out over a personal conduct scandal and a long-awaited streaming service was shuttered following the sale of the outlet’s parent company to media conglomerate Discovery.

When CNN+ was shut down last month after less than 30 days, Licht said the decision was “in line with WBD’s broader direct-to-consumer strategy. In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service, which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings.”

Media and politics website Puck reported this week the network is planning to keep longtime anchor Chris Wallace within the company and move his show to its HBO Max Streaming service. Wallace left Fox News last year to host an interview-style show on CNN’s streaming service.

Licht sparked speculation about his editorial vision for CNN last month when he announced he was getting off Twitter, saying it can “skew what’s really important in the world.”

Tags Chris Cuomo Chris Wallace CNN
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