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CNN will see layoffs and other cuts in the coming weeks, as the global news division responds to a worsening economic climate and as Warner Bros. Discovery continues its effort to bring together the WarnerMedia and Discovery businesses.
CNN CEO Chris Licht explained the rationale in a memo to staff Wednesday, adding that “our aim is to have most of these decisions made by the end of the year so we can start 2023 feeling settled and prepared for the future.”
Employees at CNN have been bracing for the changes since Licht began a review of the news division’s business lines and its programming.
On the programming front, CNN is set to debut a new morning show next month, and canceled the Sunday morning show Reliable Sources. Licht is expected to make further changes to CNN’s primetime and weekend lineups in the coming months.
Licht did not divulge where the cuts will come from, though he said leadership “will be strategic in this process and will minimize the impact on our core newsgathering operation and Digital, both of which have already executed smart changes.”
One of Licht’s first moves after joining CNN was to oversee the shutdown of the CNN+ streaming service, just a few weeks after it launched. He also combined newsgathering options across linear and digital to avoid duplication.
In his memo, Licht cited the worsening macroeconomic environment as one reason for the cuts.
“There is widespread concern over the global economic outlook, and we must factor that risk into our long-term planning,” Licht wrote. “All this together will mean noticeable change to this organization. That, by definition, is unsettling. These changes will not be easy because they will affect people, budgets, and projects.”
However, Warner Bros. Discovery has been making cuts across its organization in recent months, with the Warner Bros. TV Group impacted earlier in October. Some cuts were expected due to the merger of the two media companies, however, it is clear that the economic environment is forcing further budget cuts.
This week WBD disclosed to investors that it expects to incur restructuring charges of as much as $4.3 billion related to the merger, including as much as $1.1 billion tied to layoffs and other personnel changes.
Licht’s full memo is below.
To my CNN colleagues,
I have spent the last six months meeting so many of you and diving deep into every corner of the company to understand how you do the incredible work CNN produces every day, how we’re structured, and defining our top priorities. As many of you know, I have also spent much of that time doing formal business reviews with senior staff to identify areas where we should make changes, investments, and reductions to match our future priorities.
We have already begun working toward CNN’s future, implementing a strategy that puts our journalism first and grows our digital stronghold. We restructured our digital team and are investing significantly in the product. We combined our newsgathering operations across linear and digital to ensure we can bring our full reporting firepower to any platform we are on. We are beginning to reimagine our morning and primetime lineups, officially launching our new morning show next week. We’ve started building our Sunday night long-form program. We have also begun to reduce or eliminate areas that aren’t core to our mission. All these moves are designed to keep CNN essential across platforms to ensure that wherever and however people get their news, they must have CNN.
There is a lot more to be done. I am writing to you today to say that over the next several weeks, that work will accelerate. There is widespread concern over the global economic outlook, and we must factor that risk into our long-term planning. All this together will mean noticeable change to this organization. That, by definition, is unsettling. These changes will not be easy because they will affect people, budgets, and projects.
We will be strategic in this process and will minimize the impact on our core newsgathering operation and Digital, both of which have already executed smart changes. Let me be clear: I will not allow these changes to affect our position as the world’s leading news source, and we will continue to invest in growth areas. When we conclude this process, CNN will still be the largest, most-respected newsgathering organization in the world. We will continue to cover any story, anywhere, any time—with more resources than anyone else. Full stop.
Our aim is to have most of these decisions made by the end of the year so we can start 2023 feeling settled and prepared for the future. We will send updates as I have them, and I plan to hold town hall meetings in both November and December.
When we emerge on the other side, CNN will be a stronger, more nimble organization, ready to weather whatever the global economy throws at us and to grow into the future.
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