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It’s Official: Jeff Zucker Named President Of CNN Worldwide

Time Warner has made it official: former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker will be the new president of CNN Worldwide, replacing outgoing president Jim Walton.

Zucker will take the reins in January. We gave the rundown on Zucker’s background earlier this week. The short version: he was a news prodigy at NBC, fumbled when he took over entertainment, but had success with the company’s cable channels as CEO. He left when Comcast acquired NBCU last year, and is most recently the EP of syndicated talker “Katie.”

Zucker will be based in New York, a stark departure for the channel, which has its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

In a note to CNN staffers, Turner Broadcasting chairman Phil Kent wrote:

“I picked Jeff because of his extensive experience and track record in broadcast and cable news, his passion for the news business and his strong belief, which I share, that the best days of CNN lie ahead if we create news programming on each of our platforms that delivers on the core values of the CNN brand: accuracy, immediacy and offering all perspectives through great reporting, analysis, explanation and presentation.”

Kent’s memo to staff is after the jump, along with CNN’s official announcement.

To: Colleagues
From: Phil Kent

I am very pleased to confirm that Jeff Zucker will be joining CNN as president of CNN Worldwide. We’re making the announcement today. But first, I want to share my thinking on this decision with you directly.

After a careful search process, I picked Jeff because of his extensive experience and track record in broadcast and cable news, his passion for the news business and his strong belief, which I share, that the best days of CNN lie ahead if we create news programming on each of our platforms that delivers on the core values of the CNN brand: accuracy, immediacy and offering all perspectives through great reporting, analysis, explanation and presentation.

When Jim Walton announced his intention to step down at the end of the year, he specifically said that CNN needed “new thinking” to build upon our existing strengths and strong legacy. Jeff will provide that, and while he has enormous respect for our organization and brand, I expect that he also will challenge our thinking—yours and mine—in a very healthy and inclusive way. In a career that has seen significant professional success in both broadcast and cable, Jeff has demonstrated his ability to run multiple lines of business and fiercely defend journalists and journalism.

We have both short-term and long-term challenges ahead, from strengthening our normal news day programming to navigating through the changing consumption patterns of news. We are in a great position to do that with strong business fundamentals, terrific journalists and very strong platforms: two domestic networks, an international network and an innovative digital business, as well as our other enterprises.

Jeff will be based in New York and will start at the end of January, but you may see him sooner in the hallways there and in Atlanta. In the meantime, I ask all of you to stay focused and please be a little patient; no one should expect overnight transformation. CNN will continue to achieve its successes through great teamwork and collaboration, and I couldn’t be more pleased to position the best leader for the road ahead. When you meet Jeff, please wish him well and tell him he can count on you.

I want to thank you for your continuing commitment and great work at and for CNN.

Press release:

Jeff Zucker Named President of CNN Worldwide

Jeff Zucker will join CNN Worldwide as president of the multi-platform global news enterprise, it was announced today by Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. In January 2013, Zucker will assume executive oversight of a portfolio of 23 branded news and information businesses that includes CNN/U.S., CNN International, CNN.com and HLN and reaches more than 2 billion people in some 200 countries around the world. Zucker will report to Kent and will be based at CNN in New York.

Zucker started his 25-year career with NBC as a researcher for NBC Sports’ coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games and rose to president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal. He was named executive producer of Today in January 1992; under his eight-year leadership, the program was the most-watched morning news show and the most profitable program on television. Zucker went on to executive-produce NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and the network’s coverage of the Persian Gulf War, the 1993 and 1997 presidential inaugurations and the 2000 elections. He was promoted to president of NBC Entertainment, president of the NBC Entertainment, News & Cable group and president and CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group. Currently, Zucker is executive producer of the syndicated daytime show Katie.

“Jeff’s experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success,” said Kent. “He built and sustained the number-one brand in morning news, and under his watch NBC’s signature news programming set a standard for quality and professionalism. As a programmer, a brand-builder and a leader, he will bring energy and new thinking to CNN. I couldn’t be happier to welcome him or more excited about what he’ll accomplish here.”

“I am thrilled to join the distinguished team of journalists across the worldwide platforms of CNN,” said Zucker. “The global reach and scale of the CNN brand is unparalleled in all of news. Outside of my family and the Miami Dolphins, there is nothing I am as passionate about as journalism. I spent the most rewarding years of my career as a journalist, and it’s where I look forward to spending many more. I am grateful to Phil Kent for this opportunity, and I’m excited to return to daily newsgathering and compelling storytelling in a place that values those above all else.”

The original 24-hour news network, CNN has the greatest reach of any domestic news network. The CNN brand on television extends to 100 million households in the U.S. and 265 million households abroad, with significant online and mobile reach and a global newsgathering network with 45 locations. CNN signatures include Anderson Cooper 360, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Piers Morgan Tonight, State of the Union, Amanpour and Quest Means Business, as well as award-winning documentaries, unrivaled breaking news coverage and peerless political reporting.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.

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