Jeff Zucker may extend CNN stay after Discovery-WarnerMedia deal


CNN President Jeff Zucker may stay in his role longer than he planned now that CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia is merging with Discovery, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

AT&T announced on Monday that it would merge WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc. to create a new, as yet unnamed public company with Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav as its head.

Zucker and Zaslav are friends, the Times reported. And though Zucker said he’s leaving CNN at the end of 2021, he may change his mind if Zaslav does end up leading the new company, a source told the Times.

Neither WarnerMedia nor Discovery immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill about CNN’s future in the new company.

However, Scott Robson, a research analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence, agreed with the Times’s assessment.

“It seems like Zucker might stick around longer under Zaslav,” he said, before adding that the deal means a bigger, more powerful CNN.

“There is potential to fortify CNN’s international brand by utilizing the Discovery international news assets,” Robson said.

Discovery has news assets in Poland, via its ownership of TVN; in New Zealand, from its acquisition of over-the-air TV company MediaWorks; and is an investor in GB News, a potential Fox News-like channel in the U.K.

Though CNN will be just one of dozens of media properties in the new company and though cable news ratings have been declining recently, the network remains a significant business asset, Robson said. 

“We estimate that CNN generated $1.97 billion in revenue in 2020, which is about 20 percent of total revenue for the WarnerMedia U.S. cable networks,” he said. “CNN accounted for 26 percent of WarnerMedia’s total 24-hour ratings in 2019 and nearly 40 percent in 2020, so it is an increasingly valuable asset.” 

Tags AT&T CNN Discovery Channel Jeff Zucker media mergers and acquisitions Warner Media
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