William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE SLOW FADEAWAY OF CNN:  CNN's "numbers" are pathetically bad.  The network's new owners say they want to shake up CNN and turn it into a balanced news reporting operation.  The question is whether it's too late.  CNN's viewers will have a booster meeting in a phone booth next week.  From Fox: 

CNN had its smallest weekday audience since the Obama administration on Tuesday as ratings woes continue to plague the struggling network. 

CNN, which was purchased by Warner Bros. Discovery earlier this year following the closing of a $43 billion merger, averaged only 393,000 total viewers on June 14. The dismal turnout was CNN’s smallest weekday audience since Nov. 2, 2015 if you exclude Thanksgiving Day. 

The network also had its least-viewed, non-Thanksgiving weekday during the hours of 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. when CNN’s daytime lineup managed only 489,000 average viewers. It was CNN’s worst performance in that category since Nov. 3, 2015. 

CNN developed a reputation for relying on critical coverage of former-President Trump to attract liberal viewers under former boss Jeff Zucker, but Tuesday’s gloomy turnout came one day after the Jan. 6 committee spent Monday focused heavily on Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results through litigation. CNN shed a staggering 43% of the 694,000 total viewers who tuned in on Monday when there was no hearing on Tuesday. 

The rock-bottom viewership came as recently appointed CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht – who replaced Zucker – is expected to address staffers during an internal staff meeting on Thursday. He previously informed staffers he would "double down on what's working well and quickly eliminate what's not," and there have since been lingering questions about what programs or personalities were scrapped by the new regime.  

Long-struggling morning show "New Day" will be re-imagined later this year, Licht announced at the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront event last month. Other changes have not yet been announced, but Licht has stated he wants to put an emphasis on news, as opposed to liberal opinion programming. 

COMMENT:  My own sense is that CNN's problems are well past the point where some adjustments will do the trick.  What is needed is a total overhaul, which may, sadly, mean major personnel changes.

The network's coverage of Ukraine has been the one bright spot in its recent legacy.  But its domestic coverage continues to beat the anti-Trump gun.  It's as if nothing has changed.  And the ship is still sinking.  What kind of viewer base will CNN have when changes are finally made?  Will anyone come back? 

June 17, 2022