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CNN Considers Major Staff Shake-Up Amid Tanking Ratings: Report

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


CNN is considering a major shake-up of programming and personalities amid tanking ratings.

CNN, as well as MSNBC, continue to struggle on the ratings front and it has been getting worse by the month.

“MSNBC finished last week No. 9 on basic cable with an 800,000 primetime viewer average. That’s the network’s lowest finish in the daypart in quite some time—and is -22% from what the network averaged in the daypart the previous week. MSNBC also averaged 556,000 total day viewers this past week, No. 3 on basic cable and -16% from the prior week. When it came to adults 25-54, MSNBC averaged only 71,000 in primetime this past week (No. 43 on basic cable). That’s -35% from the prior week. The network also averaged 58,000 adults 25-54 in total day, which is -26% from the prior week and No. 33 overall on basic cable. The 71,000 and 58,000 in the aforementioned measurements represent MSNBC’s lowest number in each since 1999,” AdWeek reported.

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“Elsewhere in cable news land, CNN averaged 603,000 total viewers in primetime last week, down -19% from the week prior. CNN’s A25-54 viewership in primetime (122,000) was -40% from the prior week. Additionally, in the total day, CNN lost -16% in total viewers (458,000) and -26% in the key demo (96,000). CNN had its lowest-rated Monday-Friday since the Obama administration,” the report added.

“CNN dropped -23% in average total primetime viewers and -27% in the primetime demo, -17% in total day viewers, and -20% in the total day demo. MSNBC struggled the most relative to 2021, -37% in average total primetime viewers, losing more than half of its A25-54 audience in primetime (-55%), to go with -26% in total day viewers and -41% in the total day demo vs. the year-ago week, which also started on Memorial Day,” the report continued.

Now, it appears the new owners are about to shake things up.

Partisan CNN hosts Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta, along with other biased hosts, could be gone as the network undergoes changes.

The new boss at CNN, Chris Licht, “is evaluating whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing during the Trump era can adapt to the network’s new priority to be less partisan,” Axios reported.

Three sources close to the situation said that if the talent can not adjust and be more straight news and less partisan they could be gone.

It is reported that he wants to give the current talent a chance to prove that they can do straight news and not tarnish CNN’s reputation, which may be tarnished right now.

“We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers,” Licht said to employees in a memo. “If talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted, three sources familiar with the matter tell Axios.”

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But that is not the only change. Licht also agrees with others that CNN uses the “Breaking News’ banner far too often.

“Something I have heard from people both inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner. I agree,” the new boss said.

“It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience. Starting today, CNN has added a ‘Breaking News’ guideline to our stylebook. A special thank you to Sam Feist, who led the team that put the guideline together. It certainly will need tweaks, so we are open to feedback, but this is a great starting point to try to make ‘Breaking News’ mean something BIG is happening,” he said.

Licht wants the cable news giant to focus more on “nuance” rather than “hype.”

“A month into his tenure as the new leader of CNN, Chris Licht is changing the news network from the Jeff Zucker days, encouraging less hype and more nuance. Some at the network are skeptical,” The New York Times tweeted.

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Another report from TVNewser reveals that Warner Bros. Discovery has begun laying off staffers less than a month after pulling the plug on CNN’s failed streaming service.

“It is unclear how many people are affected in total, but approximately 23 staffers in CNN’s Hudson Yards offices were told today that their positions were being eliminated, according to a source. Another source confirmed that layoffs had occurred, but noted that the company is still trying to place those impacted CNN+ staffers in other positions around CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery,” TVNewser reported.

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Licht said in an internal memo that “all CNN+ employees will continue to be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days to explore opportunities at CNN, CNN Digital, and elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Discovery family.”

“Staffers who aren’t absorbed in the new Warner Bros. Discovery will receive a minimum of six months of severance, Licht told CNN staffers at a separate town hall,” TVNewser reported.

“Last month, Warner Bros. Discovery shut down the highly-publicized subscription-based streaming news service CNN+, less than a month after it launched. That decision came less than two weeks after WarnerMedia and Discovery formally merged. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has pledged to find $3 billion in cost savings, raising the likelihood of significant layoffs as the companies combine,” the report added.

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