A former producer of NBC’s highly morning show “Today,” Zucker was the front runner to succeed Walton as head of the cable news channel. He will report to Phil Kent, the president of Turner Broadcasting, the Time Warner unit that houses CNN.
“Jeff’s experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success,” Kent said in a statement. “He built and sustained the No. 1 brand in morning news, and under his watch NBC’s signature news programming set a standard for quality and professionalism.”
“I am thrilled to join the distinguished team of journalists across the worldwide platforms of CNN,” said Zucker in a statement. “I spent the most rewarding years of my career as a journalist, and it’s where I look forward to spending many more.”
Although CNN is headquartered in Atlanta, Zucker will be based in New York.
Zucker left NBCUniversal after Comcast completed its takeover. Most recently, he has been producing former “Today” anchor Katie Couric’s daytime talker.
While CNN is profitable and has a strong global presence, in the US its ratings have dramatically fallen in the last decade as Fox News and to a lesser degree MSNBC have taken away viewers.
RBR-TVBR observation: As we’ve said, a mix of right and left would be best for CNN moving forward. Having a Hannity and Colmes mix at the anchor desk, providing both right-and left-perspective commentary (humorous at times) would be a way to turn things around. Zucker has both news experience helming “Today,” as well as entertainment experience as head of NBC’s prime-time lineup. He just may be able to make CNN entertaining enough in the US to get more ratings, while still being a news destination.