Friday, November 30, 2012

CNN Zucker-Punched

Jeff Zucker Shankbone 2010 NYC
 (Photo credit: david_shankbone)
Jeff Zucker, 47, is the incoming president of CNN Worldwide, a new chapter in a career that has included stints as executive producer of  NBC's Today Show at age 26, head of NBC Universal and executive producer and co-owner of "Katie," Katie Couric's talkfest syndicated by Disney.

Zucker will take the helm of CNN in January, succeeding Jim Walton, who completes a nine-year run in the position. CNN, CNN International and HNL are among the entities Zucker will oversee, according to accounts in the New York Post, Bloomberg News and CNN. CNN reaches a 100 million U.S. households, but its prime-time programming attracts fewer than a third of the viewers who watch Fox News. Zucker will disassociate himself from "Katie," though don't be surprised if he tries to lure Her Royal Perkiness to CNN's Prime-time schedule.

He is an accomplished broadcasting executive, though during his five-year reign as NBC Universal's Majordomo, NBC has finished fourth in network ratings, trailing CBS, ABC, FOX and just edging out the Emergency Broadcast Signal. When Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice is a bright light of one's oeuvre, it's ok to feel a bit jumpy if you're a CNN shareholder.

Zucker will be right at home at CNN, which currently languishes in third place behind cable rivals Fox and MSNBC. It remains to be seen whether moves such as enlisting chef Anthony Bourdain to host a program will reverse CNN's recent series of missteps, that include Piers Morgan and  Parker & Spitzer.

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