CNN has tapped former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker as its next president, hoping he can engineer a ratings revival, said Keach Hagey and Christopher S. Stewart in The Wall Street Journal. In recent years, the struggling news network has steadily hemorrhaged prime-time viewers to its more partisan rivals, Fox News and MSNBC. Zucker, 47, certainly has news chops, having helped turn NBC’s Today Show into the most profitable show on television. But his luster dimmed when he expanded to the entertainment side as CEO of NBC Universal in 2007. Under his watch, NBC fell from No. 1 in prime time to last place. His “most high-profile misstep” came in 2010, when he bungled the late-night handover between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.
Zucker’s challenge will be making CNN not just a go-to channel for breaking news but a home for colorful personalities who can tell stories and attract viewers, said Howard Kurtz in TheDailyBeast.com. While that involves “more than mere tinkering,” Zucker insists he won’t abandon CNN’s nonpartisan point of view in an effort to chase rivals’ ratings. “You don’t need to be partisan. That’s way too limiting.’’ But “that doesn’t mean there can’t be more passion and excitement.”