Time Warner execs have reached out to media heavyweights, including Sony Chairman Howard Stringer, as they looks for a new chief to revive their ratings-challenged CNN cable news network, The NY Post has learned.
Phil Kent, who runs the Turner Broadcasting division of Time Warner, and his boss, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, are taking their time replacing outgoing CNN chief Jim Walton, whose contract expires at the end of the year.
Walton confirmed his exit in July after the once-dominant cable news network slumped to its lowest ratings in nearly two decades, saying the network was in need of “fresh thinking.”
CNN is reaching out to media heavyweights like former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker and Stringer in hopes they can doctor the former cable news leader back to health.
Kent has been meeting secretly with potential candidates and is under pressure to come up with a leader who can breathe new life into CNN, the story said.
Stringer is a former news chief who rose through the corporate ranks to take the helm of Japanese media and electronics giant Sony. He led CBS News for two years and then the network before joining Sony in 1997. Stringer stepped down as Sony’s CEO in the spring but stayed on as chairman.
Sources said Time Warner will likely look at other broadcast-news chiefs including Neal Shapiro, who led NBC News, and David Westin, the former president of ABC News.
“We should know something in a month, perhaps before the elections,” said one CNN insider. “Unlike CNN International, we just don’t have someone with a mission. “We need our Roger Ailes,” the source said, referring to the chief of Fox News, which toppled ratings leader CNN years ago and has since widened its lead.
Time Warner execs are also getting help internally. Post Sources say HBO boss Richard Plepler is playing a key role in advising Bewkes.