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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Kent’

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…

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Phil Kent Praises Jeff Zucker’s ‘Big, Bold Changes’ at CNN

philip_kentIn his last year-end note to Turner Broadcasting employees before he steps down as CEO, Phil Kent praised Jeff Zucker and his management team for the changes made at CNN this year:

With due respect to the other business units, there’s no part of our company that is more globally revered, more closely watched and more constantly evolving than CNN. The evolution continued in 2013 under Jeff Zucker. In front of the camera and behind it, Jeff and his management team made big, bold changes this year, and a lot of them. There are success stories across the CNN schedule, and there will be more as the changes gather and gain audience.

Meanwhile, I am encouraged that for the year now drawing to a close, CNN’s ratings are essentially even with last year, when elections and several global disasters made for challenging year-to-year comparisons, while those of its main cable news competitors are down sharply. Of course, CNN is more than the domestic television network. Its international scope and digital leadership—including best-ever metrics for page views and mobile usage—continue to set us apart and, in my admittedly biased opinion, above. I appreciate what Jeff and the CNN team have done and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

The full memo is after the jump.  Read more

Phil Kent To Step Down as CEO Of Turner Broadcasting, John Martin To Assume Top Role

Phil Kent, John Martin

Breaking: The chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting, Phil Kent, will step down from the CEO role when his contract ends next year, he announced in a memo to staff today.

Time Warner CFO John Martin will take over as CEO of the unit on January 1, 2014, with Kent staying on as chairman for a transition period. Time Warner owns Turner Broadcasting, a unit that includes the CNN networks, TBS, TNT, Turner Sports, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.

“A dozen years is a long run in a top leadership position, particularly in such a dynamic and fast-changing industry as ours,” Kent wrote in a memo to staff today, obtained by TVNewser. “I’m very proud of Turner’s business results over the past decade. But I’m equally proud of the culture that we have built together to foster creativity, collaboration and risk-taking in the pursuit of excellence.”

Martin, like Kent, will report to Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

“John is one of the most capable and strategically-minded executives I know,” Bewkes said in a statement. “As CFO, he led the design and implementation of our financial strategy that has helped Time Warner deliver superior shareholder returns. But he is also a broad and thoughtful business thinker whose inclusive management style and focus on driving the business forward will fit well with the Turner tradition. I have great confidence he will build on the success Phil has achieved to take Turner to even greater heights.”

More below, including Kent’s letter to staff.

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Howard Kurtz Signs Off From CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’

After 15 years as the host of the program, Howard Kurtz signed off from CNN’s “Reliable Sources” today. At the end of the program Kurtz looked back at some of the its most memorable and important moments

“I havent changed, and I will be continuing my independent brand of media criticism [at Fox News],” Kurtz said. “As for CNN, I am happy to report that ‘Reliable Sources’ will continue with the full support of Turner Broadcasting chairman Phil Kent, and [CNN] chief executive Jeff Zucker. I want to wish the network that has been my home for more than two decades, all the best.”

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Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent On Jeff Zucker And ‘Fixing’ CNN

Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent has a good idea of that CNN’s problems have been and what new CNN president Jeff Zucker is doing to fix them. As Zucker’s boss at Time Warner, Kent is a big part of the conversations happening there behind the scenes.

The cover story for this week’s issue of Broadcasting & Cable has Andrea Morabito interviewing Kent (subscription required), with a good deal of the conversation focusing on the cable news channel. Kent seemed most excited about the soon-to-launch morning show, which will be co-anchored by Chris Cuomo, but he also tells Morabito “I think we need at least one new primetime show.”

What kind of timeline did you and Jeff talk about for making changes, and for seeing results?

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A Tough Road Ahead For Jeff Zucker, Chris Cuomo And CNN In The Morning

The day he was announced as CNN’s new worldwide president, Jeff Zucker and his new boss Turner Broadcasting chairman Phil Kent held a conference call with reporters.

Kent, never one to mince words, said that one of the reasons Time Warner hired Zucker was his experience in morning news.

“It is not lost on any of us that occasionally HLN’s morning show beats CNN’s morning show,” Kent said. “One of the hundred other reasons I wanted [Zucker] was because of his experience in the morning.”

Now, barely a week into his new job, Zucker is planning to shake up the mornings, replacing “Starting Point” with a new program anchored by Chris Cuomo, and possibly another anchor such as Erin Burnett. It is far too soon to speculate about what the new program will look like, but it is worth noting that Cuomo and Burnett have extensive experience in the mornings, although not exactly on the most-watched programs.

Zucker, of course, changed the morning show game when he rose to the top of “Today” in 1992, at the age of 26.

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Jeff Zucker’s Vision For CNN: ‘Broaden The Definition Of What News Is’

Soon-to-be CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker and his new boss, Turner Broadcasting chairman Phil Kent, held a conference call with reporters this morning to talk about Zucker’s hire. There were plenty of talking points, but reading between the lines, it was clear that Zucker had a vision–at least a general one–of what he thought CNN has to do to remain relevant in a competitive, multi-platform news environment.

“I think our competition today is anybody that competes for eyeballs and attention and produces non-fiction programming,” Zucker said. “News is about more than politics and war, we need to broaden that definition of what news is, while maintaining the standards of CNN’s journalistic excellence.”

“We have had shows about sports, fashion and technology, and some of that is going to be revisited,” Kent said. “It is all news that people need and are interested about. There is a lot of subject matter that we probably don’t give enough attention to.”

CNN is beginning to expand to other forms of non-fiction programming on the weekends with new shows next year hosted by Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock. Zucker said that “it wouldn’t be fair” to any current hosts or shows to discuss what he had planned for them.

That said, it seemed clear that two areas Zucker wanted to focus on are CNN’s primetime lineup and its morning program, where he has real-world experience having taken NBC’s “Today” show to #1 in the ’90s, where it stayed for 16 years.

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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.
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Jeff Zucker To CNN: The Argument Against

Earlier we noted how former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker is preparing to leave the syndicated talker “Katie,” which he currently EPs.

We also noted that Zucker is on the (public) short list of names to replace Jim Walton at CNN Worldwide. In the LA Times, Joe Flint lays out why that probably won’t happen. There are  a lot of reasons why Zucker is unlikely to get the CNN job, but a significant one is that the job might simply be too small for the executive:

Currently, CNN is part of Turner Broadcasting, which is run by Phil Kent, a low-key executive who avoids the spotlight as much as Zucker embraces it. If Zucker is running CNN, he would in theory report to Kent. Would that fly with Zucker? In his old life he reported to the chief executive of General Electric. If he took CNN he might want a direct line to Time Warner Chief Jeff Bewkes. See, this is starting to get complicated.

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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