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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Walton’

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: ‘Fixing’ CNN Is A Top Priority

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes led his company’s quarterly earnings call this morning, and he had blunt words for CNN. Bewkes began the call by focusing on Turner Broadcasting’s results, praising TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network for their strong growth, before adding “the exception this quarter was CNN.”

“To be clear, we are not satisfied with CNN’s ratings performance, and we are focused on fixing it,” Bewkes added. CNN announced late last week that the longtime president of CNN International, Jim Walton, would be leaving the company at the end of the year.

In the question and answer portion of the call, Bewkes was asked what the company was planning to do to raise CNN’s ratings.

“I think as we all know, it is a great brand,” Bewkes said, touting the channel’s domestic cume numbers (still number one in cable news), as well as its international and digital performance.

“We are going to do a better job putting on programming that will hold viewers,” Bewkes said. “We believe there is very strong demand for objective, comprehensive, non-partisan coverage, but we need to do it in a very compelling, more engaging way than we have been doing of late. That is what we are going to focus on next.”
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CNN Worldwide Chief Jim Walton To Step Down

BREAKING: CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton says he will step down from his post at the end of the year. Walton oversees all of CNN’s properties, including CNN/U.S., CNN International, HLN and CNN Digital.

In a note to staff this morning, Walton said that the network needs some fresh thinking at the top.

“CNN needs new thinking.  That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through.  And I’m ready for a change.  I have interests to explore and I want to give myself time to do it.”

Walton’s full note is after the jump.

CNN has faced ratings struggles over the last few years at its flagship network, CNN/U.S.. While its digital and international units have grown, CNN/U.S. has not seen the same success.

Turner Broadcasting chairman Phil Kent will lead the charge for Walton’s successor.

In a statement, Kent said:

“Jim is the leader we all aspire to be: Smart and steady, tough and fair, business-savvy and respected by his team, and with a track record of great judgment when it matters most.  His vision has modernized and globalized our legacy news brand, enhanced CNN’s journalistic standing, positioned it at the forefront of multi-platform branded news content and challenged the organization to think bigger, reach further and do better.  I am honored to work alongside him and proud to call him my friend.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in a statement:

When Jim Walton assumed the presidency of CNN in 2003, it was underperforming and earnings were in serious decline.  Since then, he and CNN have tripled earnings, doubled margin and delivered annual growth of 15 percent.  In his nearly 31 years of uninterrupted and distinguished service to CNN, Jim has been instrumental in growing the business into the financial powerhouse it has become, while establishing the brand as the worldwide leader for television news.  I respect him personally and professionally and support the decision he and Phil Kent have reached.

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Survey: CNN The Top News Brand in Africa

The latest EMS Africa survey, which tracks viewership across seven African nations, says that CNN and CNN International is the top news brand on the continent. CNN managed to beat out English-language competitors like BBC World News and Al Jazeera English by healthy margins, in just about every category.

In a memo to staff, CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton mentioned the EMS Survey, and used it to praise CNN’s international reach.

Over the last several years, we have made investments in international newsgathering and programming to strengthen this core part of our company. It is gratifying to see the audiences have become increasingly engaged with CNN across the globe and that the business is continuing to grow. Another positive result this year is the growth of our ad sales revenue for CNN International and we expect to finish this year with double digit revenue growth despite the global economic climate.

The EMS Survey tracks only the wealthiest residents of the countries it polls (they also happen to be the people most likely to have cable or satellite TV). The survey looks at viewership in South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda.

The Africa results continue a trend for CNN internationally, as it placed atop the competition in the Middle East, Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions.

More, including Walton’s full memo, after the jump.

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Will a TV Show About the News be More Compelling Than the Real Thing?

I admire Aaron Sorkin, but he gives me a headache. By the time his characters finish a monologue, I’m ready for a nap.

Sorkin’s latest work, “The Newsroom,” which debuts Sunday on HBO, is no exception. In the pilot’s opening scene, set at a J-school panel, cable newsman Will McAvoy delivers a breathless tirade that, while eloquent, lasts longer than most network sitcoms.

In an homage to Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network,” McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, explodes when the moderator goads him into answering a student question about why America is the greatest country on earth. It’s not, he says, and here’s why.

Citing reams of statistics that someone in his line of work could not possibly know – another Sorkin trademark — McAvoy ends on a hopeful note. The speech will change the direction of his career from a bland ‘Jay Leno’ to a take-no-prisoners anchor of the Old School, like Murrow, Cronkite and Brinkley.

Images of those very men are in “Newsroom’s” opening montage, along with those of Dan Rather and legendary producer Don Hewitt. They are Sorkin’s heroes, he says. To that end, the underlying message of “Newsroom” is that it’s not too late to create a civil, intelligent newscast they would have been proud of.

News junkies will not be able to resist this show, despite the fact that some of the plotlines are ridiculous and that Sorkin writes like he’s getting paid by the word. Programs about the TV news business are rare. The last good one, Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” ended 12 years ago.

Sorkin reportedly based “Sports Night” on Keith Olbermann, but he’s denied that Olbermann was his muse for McAvoy.

Please. McAvoy is wicked smart, totally self-involved, highly temperamental and loathed by his staff. “I’m not the easiest guy to work for,” he tells his boss, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), news division president at fictional network ACN. Skinner has a short fuse and drinks a lot.

It pains me to say this, but Waterston, one of my favorite actors, is a tad old for the role. He punches out his lines like every breath will be his last. Daniels, on the other hand, is in his element,

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The Ticker: Maddox, Cronkite, Peabodys

    • CNN International chief Tony Maddox talks to B&C about his channel placing first in a survey of European viewers. “We’ve had many strong years before in this survey but we’ve never had a year like this,” Maddox noted in an interview. “Statistically this is the best performance we’ve ever had in terms of the rate of growth.”
    • The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz reviews a new biography about the late CBS Newsman Walter Cronkite, and finds that there is more to the anchor than many people may know. “But he was far more liberal than the public believed, and he let it show in unacceptable ways. Had Cronkite pulled such stunts today, I would probably be among those calling for him to step down.”
    • Right now in New York, the Peabody Awards are being handed out, and recipients include CBS News, ABC News, BBC News, Al Jazeera and CNN. CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton sent a memo to staffers today discussing the Peabody wins, as well as the survey that cited CNNI. Read it after the jump.
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    CNN’s Next Step: ‘Come up with a plan to restore momentum’ Following April Ratings Low

    (l-r) Jim Walton, Dick Parsons and Phil Kent

    The Wall Street Journal‘s Keach Hagey looks at CNN’s ratings woes, and provides some new context and information relating to the news channel. Among the revelations: Former Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons allegedly wanted CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton removed from his post.

    Also: the current leadership of Time Warner, led by CEO Jeff Bewkes, are not taking CNN’s struggles lying down.

    Time Warner’s current CEO, Jeff Bewkes, is “clearly not satisfied” with how CNN is doing and is pushing management of both CNN and Turner “to come up with a plan to restore momentum” of CNN, said a Time Warner spokesman.

    “I’ve been here for a long time. And I enjoy what I do, and I compete and I plan to keep doing it for a while,” Mr. Walton said in an interview.

    Read the entire WSJ item here.

    The New York TimesBrian Stelter has more information, including that CNN wants to add an 11 PM program, but that existing programming will likely take top priority.

    Three Peabody Awards, In Three Very Different Genres, For CNN

    The University of Georgia announced that CNN would receive three Peabody Awards, for its coverage of the Arab Spring, “CNN Heroes” and “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

    For CNN, the three awards represented three different styles of television journalism, a fact not lost on executives there.

    “When you look at some of the other award winners it is really the best of the best in television and radio, and we are obviously honored to be part of that company,” CNN executive VP Mark Whitaker told TVNewser. “I think it is particularly gratifying when you look at the three awards that we received.”

    One was for CNN’s coverage of the Arab Spring. “CNN has continued to expand its international resources at a time when most other news organizations are cutting back, and we think that really paid off,” says Whitaker. “We also have shown a special commitment to covering the conflict in Syria which has been very difficult to cover because of the degree to which the government there is trying to keep journalists out.”

    Whitaker says the award for Zakaria is gratifying in a different way.

    Zakaria will be honored for his program “Restoring the American Dream: Fixing Education” as well as for his commentary on Iran. Whitaker says it shows that CNN “can go in-depth in coverage of various issues.”

    CNN’s third Peabody goes to the CNN Heroes annual event. “It is always nice to win three awards, but when you win three awards that reflect three different parts of your mission and your brand and what you are capable of, it is even more gratifying.”

    CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton‘s memo to staff, after the jump.

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    Personalities–And a Former President–Toast Dr. Sanjay Gupta At Book Party

    Gupta, Couric, Gupta's father Subhash

    Just how well-liked is CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta? So much so that his book release party, held at The Setai Hotel last night, had more boldface names in attendance than many TV premieres. Gupta’s first novel, Monday Mornings, was released this week.

    Former President Bill Clinton, former CBS News anchor Katie Couric, daytime talk-show host Dr. Oz, “The Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi, Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer and former CNN anchor Kiran Chetry were all there. And that is before you get into the CNN contingent, which included Soledad O’Brien, Don Lemon, Ivan Watson, Jeffrey Toobin, Ashleigh Banfield and Christine Romans, among others.

    Nearly every top CNN executive was there, including CNN Worldwide chief Jim Walton, CNN U.S. chief Ken Jautz, CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker, CNN International chief Tony Maddox and HLN chief Scot Safon. We also spotted CBS News president David Rhodes mingling with the crowd.

    Clinton held court close to the entrance to the bar, with guests approaching him to chat throughout the night. Gupta worked through the crowd, saying hello to everyone, posing for photos and signing copied of his book. “Enjoy your stay in Chelsea General!” he wrote in one, referring to the fictional hospital in the book.

    Gupta also said that the television adaptation of his novel for TNT continues to progress, and production started this month.

    “Clearly Sanjay is a man of many many talents, he is possibly the busiest human being I have ever met,” said Walton during the reception, before quipping “Here is his book by the way.”

    Many more pictures below.

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    Jim Walton Cites 8 Years of Profit Growth, CNN Primetime Perfomance in Year-End Note to Staff

    Yesterday afternoon CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton sent a memo to all CNN staffers, looking back at the year that was. Walton said it was the company’s eighth-consecutive year of profit growth, and also had some positive words for CNN/U.S.:

    It was the year that the CNN/U.S. prime time schedule regained its footing and became the only news network to post growth in prime – with a significant increase of 30%; that our signature In America franchise distinguished itself and our brand with thoughtful, provocative new chapters; that CNN’s Freedom Project shone light in the dark corners of slavery and human trafficking; and that CNN Heroes reminded us that service, selflessness and humility are quietly and profoundly at work all around us.

    Walton also looked back at many of the major news events of the past year, as well as ahead to 2012:

    “As the only cable news network whose reporting doesn’t take sides, our election coverage is poised for leadership and respect as political journalism without agenda,” he wrote.

    His memo is after the jump.

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    NewsPro Names ’10 Most Powerful in Television News’

    TVWeek’s NewsPro magazine has announced its “10 Most Powerful in Television News,” and the 2011 list features executives from all the broadcast and cable networks.

    Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is recognized as being the force behind “one realm of News Corp.’s journalism empire that has stayed above the fray” of the News of the World hacking scandal. CNN president Jim Walton and EVP Ken Jautz are both on the list, as is MSNBC president Phil Griffin.

    For the broadcast networks, ABC News president Ben Sherwood was named, as well as his NBC News counterpart Steve Capus. CBS News is represented by both chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes, and the pair are cautiously applauded for charting a new, and unconventional, course for the network:

    CBS News, with journalists now in charge, is the most intriguing. Its move to hard news, particularly in the morning hours, is admirable, but there will be lots of “told you so’s” if it doesn’t work.

    See the full list here.

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