The Biz: CNN Boss Jeff Zucker Fights Back
The stars of CNN were fired up at the Jan. 10 party that followed the news channel's Television Critics Association press tour session. Their boss, Jeff Zucker, had come out swinging at Fox News chairman Roger Ailes for his recent remark that CNN "is out of the news business" — a swipe at the channel's stated intention to look for programming outside of traditional news shows. Zucker, citing a new book about Ailes, countered that his top-rated competitor is an arm of the Republican Party "masquerading as a news channel."
A Fox News spokesperson says Zucker was looking to deflect attention from CNN's ratings issues. Even if that was the case, CNN's on-air talent and producers welcomed Zucker's combativeness. Nearly all of those who attended the party thanked him for standing up for them.
While Zucker's style is energizing CNN's staff, the network still faces the challenge of growing its primetime audience. Zucker's strategy of broadening the channel's offerings to include documentaries and series (once staples of CNN's line-up in previous decades when the network was considered more serious) has delivered a few ratings wins. But it continues to be a tricky balancing act as viewers still expect the network to be the go-to destination for breaking news. On Jan. 9, CNN's latest film offering, Sole Survivor (which told the stories of people who've lived through plane crashes), finished behind Fox News Channel's and MSNBC's coverage of Gov. Chris Christie's troubles over the George Washington Bridge lane closings. The Biz followed up with Zucker after his TCA session.
Mon, Jan 13, 2014