In light of this news, it is safe to say that this will be the future business plan of CNN.
- Bring on Katie Couric in some capacity, perhaps to replace Piers Morgan.
Veteran news producer and former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker will become the president of CNN Worldwide in January, the network announced Thursday.
“Jeff’s experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success,” said Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System, CNN’s parent company. “In a career that has seen significant professional success in both broadcast and cable, Jeff has demonstrated his ability to run multiple lines of business and fiercely defend journalists and journalism.”
Zucker succeeds Jim Walton, who has headed CNN Worldwide since 2003. As president, Zucker will oversee 23 branded news and information businesses, including CNN’s U.S. television network, CNN International, HLN and CNN Digital. The latter includes CNN.com, one of the world’s leading news websites.
Zucker is best known for two things.
1) Giving the world Katie Couric and Fear Factor
2) Leaving NBC an empty wasteland.
Once an unknown news producer on Today, it was Zucker (at only the age of 26) who suggested the news division grab the then-unknown Couric and having her trademark perkiness on to replace “the other woman” on the Today Show, Deborah Norville, who viewers never liked after replacing the retiring morning show icon, Jane Pauley.
Couric clicked, ratings soared, Zucker was elevated to run the entertainment division and used his connections — and the networks’ #1 status at the time — to do nothing new, pretty much letting “ER” die on the vine, giving us lousy spin-offs from “Friends” and letting the shows which started before his tenure run their course while doing nothing to develop new shows.
Instead, he’s the one who started reality TV shows invading on network television with “Fear Factor” leading the gross-out revolution. The only “hit” he had during his time running the network was the first season of “Heroes,” which soon became a mess after the writer’s strike.
He also was the one who personally ended up screwing Conan O’Brien after personally getting Leno to agree to retire. So there’s that too.
After getting sacked at NBC when Comcast bought the network, he found his way…yeah, you guess it…back with Couric as the executive producer of her new talk show host.
If CNN is hoping this guy can turn the ship around, they are probably in for a few surprises.