CNN names former BBC, New York Times exec as new CEO

August 30, 2023

Cable news channel CNN has named Mark Thompson, a former chief executive of both the BBC and the New York Times, as its new CEO.

Thompson will replace former CNN chief exec Chris Licht, who was fired in June. David Zaslav, CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, had announced Licht’s removal and this week also announced Thompson as his replacement. 

A four-person team has been overseeing CNN in the interim months. Licht had been a lightning rod at CNN for his decisions to move the network more centrist—but which many inside the network and elsewhere had seen as moving it toward the right.

Thompson, who left the Times in 2020 after eight years there, is credited with transforming the “Old Gray Lady” into a digital-first organization more dependent on paid subscribers than the shrinking advertising market that has doomed many other newspapers.

Thompson, a knighted native of England, was director-general at the BBC from 2004-2012 prior to his stint at the Times. 

Calling his new hire a “true innovator,” Zaslov went on to praise Thompson’s “strategic vision, track record in transformational leadership and sheer passion for news,” saying the combo makes the new CEO a “formidable force for CNN and journalism at this pivotal time.”

In recent months, both CNN’s ratings and finances have faltered. In 2022 the cable channel brought in $892 million in profit—down from $1.08 billion two years earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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