CNN isn’t getting rid of Jeff Zucker that easily.
The CNN president, who had been rumored to be eying an exit after Biden’s inauguration, told staffers that he will be staying on until his current contract ends at end of 2021, according to reports and confirmed by sources.
In the call, Zucker reportedly admitted that he had been thinking about throwing in the towel early.
“The truth is, back in November and December I had basically decided that it was time to move on now,” Zucker reportedly said on the company’s daily editorial call. “But since then I’ve had a change of heart. And I want to stay. Not forever, but for another year. And I feel really good about this decision.”
Zucker’s announcement comes amid a greater restructuring at parent company AT&T’s entertainment division, WarnerMedia, which threw his future there into doubt.
The division’s new CEO Jason Kilar already sent WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt out the door. And last year Kilar reportedly stripped Zucker of several responsibilities, including his oversight of the human resources and public relations teams.
Zucker’s announcement also comes amid lingering questions about the future of CNN, which thrived during former President Donald Trump’s tenure in office.
Over the last year, CNN has been on a ratings tear, smashing a 40-year record for the network in November and beating its rivals on its coverage of the Capitol insurrection. Last month CNN logged its most-watched month ever — setting Zucker up to leave on a high note.
Despite the surge, it’s unclear whether CNN can keep up the pace under a less colorful White House. Plus, cable news networks generally face declining viewership as Americans continue to cut their ties with cable.
There has been buzz that AT&T could sell CNN as it streamlines the business and seeks to offload non-core assets, like DirecTV. The company, which is investing heavily in streaming under HBO Max, may also continue to bolster CNN’s streaming endeavors.