CNN Slashes Budgets and Salaries Under New CEO Mark Thompson


CNN is set to undergo significant transformations under the leadership of new CEO Mark Thompson. Facing declining ratings and the collapse of the traditional cable bundle, Thompson is pushing for a digital-first approach that will see budget cuts and reduced salaries for on-air talent.

Thompson, previously with The New York Times and BBC, emphasizes a need for CNN to reclaim its innovative spirit. His strategy includes slashing anchor salaries, which currently exceed $50 million, and cutting back on multi-anchor shows.

CNN's primetime ratings have plummeted, with only 538,000 nightly viewers in the 8-11 p.m. slot, far behind competitors Fox News and MSNBC​​.

CNN has struggled with digital initiatives, most notably the failed CNN+ service, which was discontinued just a month after its launch in April 2022. Thompson's plan aims to avoid past missteps by integrating CNN's newsgathering operations across TV, streaming, and digital platforms​.

To spearhead this digital overhaul, Alex MacCallum, the former head of CNN+, will return as executive vice president of digital products and services. Her role will focus on developing new concepts to attract digital audiences, marking a shift from traditional broadcasting methods​ ​.

The network’s digital transformation also involves creating digital and social media stars. Industry experts suggest that future news anchors will need to be versatile across various media platforms to justify their salaries. This shift is evident in the success of former TV anchors like Megyn Kelly and Piers Morgan, who have transitioned to digital platforms with substantial followings​​.

CNN's current digital presence includes 16 million subscribers on YouTube, where they mainly post clips from their shows. However, Thompson's strategy indicates a move towards more comprehensive digital content offerings​​.

Despite the internal restructuring and a push towards digital innovation, CNN faces significant challenges in maintaining its viewership and relevance in a rapidly evolving media landscape. The network’s success in this new direction will hinge on its ability to adapt and innovate amidst fierce competition and changing viewer habits.


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