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Phil Kent’s Turner Exit Interview: Jeff Zucker ‘Rebuilding’ CNN Fan Base

philip_kentIn an exit interview with Jack Myers, outgoing Turner Broadcasting Chairman Phil Kent credits current CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker with rebuilding the network, which Kent once ran, from 2000-2001. “Jeff brings an expanded vision of the network and it’s still the early stages,” Kent says. “He’s rebuilding the fan base and knows it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

“Jeff believes the role of the network is still to capture the middle, but to do it better. He has re-energized the core of the journalistic force who believe in his leadership. CNN is better today on breaking news [ratings increased with the recent Malaysian aircraft disappearance and Russia's incursion into Ukraine], has hired more producing talent, and expanded the documentary business…

Most importantly, CNN has combined its TV and digital news gathering, “which seems like a no brainer today, but Jeff clearly communicated CNN’s obsession with news gathering and that TV and digital assets and people needed to be co-located and integrated.” Phil acknowledges that the “ad community is restless. They’ve been hearing promises for years. CNN needs to do a better job saying what we are; not just what we’re not.”

In his final year-end note to employees, Kent singled out CNN as Turner Broadcasting’s most globally revered and constantly evolving units. John Martin took over as Turner CEO January 1. Kent plans to spend the next year traveling the world to “truly see and enjoy” places he has visited for work, but didn’t have the time to experience.

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