Jeff Zucker Named CNN Worldwide President

By: | 11/30/2012 10:19 AM ET
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The former head of NBC Universal, Jeff Zucker has just been announced as the new president of CNN Worldwide.

The 47-year-old Zucker is hoping to redeem himself in the business after being fired by NBC after his 2010 handling of the Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien debacle.

The late-night talk show controversy was just part of the problem seen by NBC while Zucker was running the company. Jeff was was hired by NBC in 1986 to research information for its coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. Under Zucker, who was promoted to CEO in February of 2007, NBC fell from being the number one rated network to the lowest rated of the four broadcast networks and was occasionally being beaten in the ratings by programming on some of the more popular cable channels.

At the time, Los Angeles Times reporters Meg James and Matea Gold declared that Zucker’s tenure had led to “a spectacular fall by the country’s premier television network” and dubbed the intra-network feud and subsequent public relations fallout “one of the biggest debacles in television history”.

Days later, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that in Hollywood “there has been a single topic of discussion: How does Jeff Zucker keep rising and rising while the fortunes of NBC keep falling and falling? …many in the Hollywood community have always regarded him as …a network Napoleon who never bothered to learn about developing shows and managing talent.” She explained that Zucker “is a master at managing up with bosses and calculating cost-per-hour benefits, but even though he made money on cable shows, he could not program the network to save his life.”

Now CNN is looking to Zucker to turn around the news networks U.S. stakes. Though the network has great international success, CNN’s performance in the United States has been lackluster and its former dominance as a news channel has been ceded to its competitors.

Before the CNN hiring Zucker had been the Executive in Residence at Columbia Business School and was working as the outgoing producer of the talk show “Katie,” on the Disney network.

Zucker will now oversee a sprawling news operation with 4,000 employees and channels around the globe that is expected to generate a record $600 million in profit this year for Turner Broadcasting.

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