Reports Claim CNN Returning To 100% News After Merger: Most “Talent/Staff” To Be Let Go

CNN is making headlines these days…

Reports reveal that there’s a big merger in the works that will force CNN to go back to being a 100% hard news organization. I guess on-air “talents” will have to go…

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What’s going on?

The Wrap reported this:

Discovery CEO David Zazlav on Monday committed to the future of CNN once his company completes a merger with AT&T’s WarnerMedia.

“Not only are we going to keep it,” Zaslav said in a Monday press conference with AT&T CEO John Stankey, but the new company will “lean into news.” He noted that his company already has a substantial news presence in Europe, which will be combined with CNN to create “a world leader in news.”

Earlier in the call, CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter asked about the fate of his employer, too, and was told by Zaslav — who will helm the new operation once the merger is completed in mid-2022 — that CNN’s independence will be honored and the brand will be given “the greatest editorial integrity.”

The Hollywood Reporter added more:

CNN finds itself at a crossroads, with president Jeff Zucker only committed to stay for a few more months, and with a swirl of rumors about a potential sale or spinoff from WarnerMedia (a source confirms that AT&T was approached last year about spinning off CNN).

Zaslav put those rumors to rest during a press conference with reporters on May 17, in which he called CNN “the beacon” of cable television and committed to growing its reach.

“We are committed to CNN having the greatest editorial integrity and success globally,” Zaslav said, noting that Discovery already owns a number of news organizations in Europe. “Now our mission is to lean into news, put [the Discovery international assets] together with CNN, and be the world leader in news.”

From NY Post:

Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia News and sports and president of CNN worldwide, announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down at the end of 2021 amid reports that he had been clashing with Jason Kilar, hired last year by AT&T to run WarnerMedia.

Now, with AT&T bidding farewell to WarnerMedia by merging it with Discovery, insiders say they expect Zucker to stay and Kilar to leave.

On Monday AT&T and Discovery said they plan to combine their media units in a move that will join WarnerMedia networks like CNN, HBO, and Hollywood studio Warner Bros. with Discovery channels such as the Food Network, TLC and Animal Planet. The deal will close in 2022, forming a new media giant to be run by Zaslav.

Zaslav had met over the past few months with AT&T CEO John Stankey to pull the $43 billion deal together, which included clandestine meetings at Zaslav’s Greenwich Village brownstone, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Although there have not been any “formal talks” about leadership positions, one source said Zaslav will likely have his longtime golfing buddy Zucker oversee an expanded news and sports portfolio. Zucker did not respond to requests for comment.

Kilar was kept in the dark about the Discovery deal until recently, sources said. According to reports, the exec has hired a legal team to negotiate his exit package.

WarnerMedia declined to comment on Kilar’s behalf. Discovery also declined to comment.

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