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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Zucker’

The Evening Ticker: Turner’s Island, AJAM’s Exclusive, CNN Philippines’ Launch

  • CNN founder Ted Turner has listed a private island off the coast of South Carolina for a not-for-the-faint-of-heart asking price of $23.777 million. The WSJ reports Turner bought St. Phillips Island as a family retreat back in 1979, but has “not been able to visit it as much as we would like” in recent years.

  • Al Jazeera America has obtained what the network describes as exclusive footage of an assault by an ISIS unit battling Iraqi forces. AJAM’s Imran Khan says “the military tactics of ISIL fighters has so far been very secretive… but for the first time, we’re able to see how well-trained and how well-disciplined they are as a fighting force.”

  • CNN and Nine Media are partnering for “CNN Philippines,” an English language free-to-air channel that will also run 24-hours a day on cable and pay TV. CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker says the deal “enables us to provide first-class news and information to millions of Filipinos in a way that we have not been able to previously.”

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Susan Grant Departing CNN

SusanGrantSusan Grant, a 27-year Turner executive, is leaving CNN, TVNewser has learned.

Grant’s departure comes as CNN cuts its workforce by 300 employees, a process which began with buyout offers and continued yesterday with layoffs.

As executive vice president of CNN News Services, Grant is the highest profile CNN employee to be departing the network this week. During her time at CNN, Atlanta-based Grant has worked in sales and marketing, and as president of Turner Program Services. Years ago was CNN’s first PR person.

“I will happily always be a member of this wonderful CNN team, and I will enjoy sharing in your continued successes,” Grant writes in a note to staff (after the jump).

“It is undeniable that few people in the history of CNN have contributed more than Susan Grant,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker tells TVNewser. “Throughout her time here, she has touched almost every part of the company. And each one has been the better for it. She has been a valued member of my Executive team, and her unwavering commitment to CNN is what has made her so special. I wish her nothing but the best.”

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NABJ Concerned Over CNN Cuts

DariusWalkerCNNA week after the National Association of Black Journalists expressed its concern “about the atmosphere for African Americans at CNN,” the network has laid off one of its highest-profile black executives.

Darius Walker, (right) an 18-year CNN veteran, is among the hundreds of employees cut as the network trims its workforce. Walker was a VP and the Northeast Bureau Chief based in New York.

NABJ president Bob Butler said its examination, even before the cuts, found “only two African American executive producers” at CNN.

“I’m shaking my head,” Butler told us by phone Tuesday, saying he’s heard from several NABJ members who were among the 170 laid off.

“When you talk to people there, we hear, ‘yeah, we’ve hired your members.’ But it’s about more than that. It’s about them getting some kind of meaningful job and getting promoted.”

Butler expressed his concerns during a meeting with CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker last year. He says he’ll continue to press the NABJ case at CNN and other news networks.

“I find it hard to believe that in 2014 that this network, or any other network, can’t find qualified candidates of color. I find it hard to believe. That’s an excuse.”

Jeff Zucker: ‘Chaos is Good for CNN’

FEATURED JeffZuckerCNNNew York Magazine‘s Gabriel Sherman profiles CNN President Jeff Zucker, chronicling his career from NBC to CNN, his battle with serious health issues, and his current quest to revive CNN.

To try to lure viewers to CNN in prime time, he is turning over the 9 o’clock hour — which had been devoted to talk since the days of Larry King—to high-quality (and expensive) original entertainment programming. Over the past year, CNN has rolled out nonfiction series like The Sixties, produced by Tom Hanks, and documentaries such as the SeaWorld exposé Blackfish. Currently, the highest-rated show on CNN is the weekly travel program hosted by Anthony Bourdain. On September 28, the network launched a series with Lisa Ling; this week brings the debut of Mike Rowe. By next year, Zucker will have a dozen original series and six documentaries in CNN’s schedule. He even developed fictional scripts based on historical events, though those projects were ultimately scrapped. “We’re doing some things that antagonize people who are so protective of the legacy of CNN,” he said. “We have to change.”

The CNN chief acknowledges that big, chaotic breaking news is good news for the network.

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Piers Morgan: ‘CNN Should be More Resilient to Media Criticism’ About Ratings

PiersMorganIn an exclusive interview with POLITICO, former CNN host Piers Morgan says he has no hard feelings toward his former network. He’s also got advice for network President Jeff Zucker.

“I’ve never looked back, because I never feel negative,” Morgan said in his first interview since leaving the network in September. “I’ve always felt that CNN should be more resilient to media criticism about monthly or quarterly ratings,” Morgan says. “Ted Turner once described CNN to me as The New York Times of television. We don’t care about chasing ratings or chasing readers. We care about having a brand that is so trusted that whenever anything important happens in the world, people turn us on.” “If I was running CNN, if I was Jeff Zucker, I would come out and do an interview with someone like you, and I would say, ‘I’m not going to discuss ratings again,’” Morgan continues. “Our business proposition is not predicated on ratings, our global brand is not dependent on how we rate at 9 p.m. in America.”

In the interview, Morgan tells a different story about the terms of his departure.

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Mike Rowe: ‘Somebody’s Gotta Do It,’ Isn’t Another ‘Dirty Jobs’

MikeRoweIceSculptureCNN toasted their newest host Mike Rowe at Hudson Mercantile on the far West Side of Manhattan tonight.

Next Wednesday Rowe takes his bow on the network with his new show “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.” Rowe says it’s not a continuation of his old Discovery Channel show “Dirty Jobs,” but rather an extension of a segment he did on “Evening Magazine” back in the early 2000s on San Francisco station KPIX.

“‘Dirty Jobs’ focused through the lens of dirt. This show will focus through the lens of people,” Rowe says. While the show is more than a decade in the making, getting it on CNN has taken considerably less time.

On his first day in January 2013, new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker spotted Rowe dining at the Landmarc in Time Warner Center. “I sat down and I said to him, ‘We want you on CNN.’ And here we are 18 months later. It took a little while, but here we are.”

Rowe says he told Zucker all he needed was “some jet fuel and an hour a week. One hour. One single hour where there’s absolutely, positively not going to be any bad news… Unless of course something breaks, and then I get it,” Rowe jokes, recognizing CNN’s primary mission.

Rowe says CNN is a great fit for his brand of reality TV, which he says has devolved over time. “CNN has always been a non-fiction network, with an eye on news,” he says. “But what’s going on in the rest of the industry, I’m not sure. I joked with Jeff, ’The duck’s have a dynasty, the amish have a mafia and honey’s got a boo boo.”

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CNNgo Launches: ‘There is Nothing Else Quite Like this in the Marketplace Today’

CNNx is now CNNgo.

The digital product, which gives viewers access to live TV, 24 hours of shows, on-demand access to original programs, and more, launched yesterday and is free, without cable authentication, for the next 10 days.

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker calls CNNgo “a result of the true spirit of innovation and change that drove Ted Turner to create [CNN] nearly 35 years ago.”

CNNgo is available on desktop or iPad and will soon be made available on TV through cable and satellite set-top boxes.

“The vision, the technology, the programming, the product – all of it was developed in-house through the tireless efforts of our colleagues across the company,” writes Zucker in a note to staff. “We should be very proud of what we accomplished together.”

The roll-out of CNNgo also includes a creative marketing campaign, including this spot:

In Atlanta Town Hall, Zucker Pushes Back that NYC is Becoming CNN’s ‘Creative Nucleus’

jeff-zucker-cnn-embedCNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker held another of his town hall meetings Wednesday, this time with employees at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta.

An insider tells us Zucker laid out the top strategic priorities for CNN, the highest being covering breaking news. Developing and acquiring CNN original series programming and the growth of digital are the other two top priorities.

Zucker said he hopes the Turner 2020 plan will be resolved in the next 4-6 weeks, saying there will be layoffs, but where the cuts will come from is still being determined.

Zucker pushed back when someone pointed out that CNN’s New York operations seem to be becoming the “creative nucleus” of the company. Zucker said while two CNN anchors — Brooke Baldwin and Carol Costello – were moved two New York over the summer, their shows are still produced in Atlanta. He also pointed out that CNN en Espanol, CNN International and HLN are all based in Atlanta.

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CNN Responds to Reese Schonfeld’s ‘Cratering News Network’ Criticism

ReeceCSPANReese Schonfeld has not been shy in his criticism of CNN, a network he worked for in the 1980s. With the byline ‘Founding CEO of CNN,’ Schonfeld has, for years, written critical pieces for Huffington Post, including one yesterday titled, CNN: The Cratering News Network.

Now, CNN is firing back.

An CNN executive tells TVNewser, “Reese Schonfeld, who didn’t create CNN but happened to work there when it went on the air, hasn’t been involved with CNN since he was let go over 30 years ago. Holding him out as having insight into CNN is like seeking travel advice from someone who still thinks Yugoslavia and East Germany are countries.”

Okay then.

Schonfeld’s most recent piece was about this week’s NLRB decision compelling CNN to rehire 100 people it laid off in 2003. “CNN disagrees with the NLRB decision and we are evaluating our options,” a CNN spokesperson told us Tuesday. As for Schonfeld, author of “Me and Ted Against the World,” he surmises:

It’s time for Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, Turner CEO John Martin, and CNN President Jeff Zucker, to find their way out of this mess, lest they face another buy-out threat from Rupert Murdoch or someone else while their stockholders are still reeling from CNN’s latest screw-up.

Turner Offers Buyouts to Hundreds of Employees; Will Also Seek ‘Additional Reductions in Staffing’


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Breaking: CNN and HLN are beginning a process of offering buyouts to hundreds of employees today. The Turner networks are among those feeling the effects of plan laid out by Turner CEO John Martin in a memo to all employees last week. More specifics came from CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker who told told employees last Tuesday they would hear from their managers about cutbacks. This morning, a note from Turner’s Chief Human Resources Officer arrived. The note, obtained by TVNewser explains that even after buyouts “Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.”

To support the company’s stated focus on programming, monetization and innovation, we are identifying cost savings and shifting capital allocations to high-growth areas where investment will drive growth and profitability. As part of these efforts, we are offering a Voluntary Separation Program to regular status Turner Broadcasting employees on Turner’s U.S. payroll working in the U.S. and who are at least age 55 and have 10 or more years of service as of December 31, 2014, excluding on-air talent and employees covered by a written employment agreement.

Today, employees meeting these eligibility requirements will receive a confidential, personalized email detailing the program, its benefits and deadlines for acceptance, which is strictly voluntary. This enhanced benefit offering is just one vehicle the company is implementing as part of a comprehensive plan. Given the current focus on reducing costs and prioritizing investments to maximize company performance, Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.

We are grateful to the tenured employees whose service and dedication to Turner Broadcasting have made an indelible mark on our business success.

This is all part of Martin’s goal to create a more “streamlined, nimble and efficient company” as part of his “Turner 2020″ plan.

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