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November 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

CNN has confirmed numerous reports that former NBC chief Jeff Zucker will take over as president of CNN Worldwide He will succeed Jim Walton who announced in July that he will step down at the end of the year. CNN said that Zucker will take over in January. Several analysts expressed doubt that Zucker was the right man for the job. While he is credited with elevating the Today show to powerhouse status in the morning while he was the executive producer of the morning program as a 26-year-old wunderkind, his tenure as NBC CEO was marked by plummeting ratings for the network and the Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno debacle that supposedly reflected Zucker’s “bottom line” thinking: Moving Jay Leno to the 10:00 p.m. hour would supposedly save the network so much money that it wouldn’t have to pay for original programming that even with much lower ratings it would still be profitable at that hour. (What Zucker apparently failed to take into account was that lower ratings would also result in a smaller lead-in audience for the NBC local stations’ 11:00 p.m newscasts and for Conan O’Brien, who took over the Tonight show at 11:30 p.m.) Today’s (Thursday) New York Times said that Zucker was on a short list of candidates sought for their “management skills, programming expertise and journalistic credibility.” But it could also be argued that the short list was a boys club of veteran industry executives adept at playing musical chairs. (It is doubtful that it included the likes of, say, Susan Zirinsky, the executive producer of CBS’s 48 Hours, who has made that program a ratings winner on Saturday night, a night that other networks have all but abandoned.) In reporting on Zucker’s appointment, CNN said on its website: “In CNN, Zucker inherits a cable network battered by ratings losses and a changing media landscape. The network’s ratings have declined precipitously in recent years, especially during the key money-making primetime hours Meanwhile, rival News Corp’s Fox has solidified its position with several top-rated evening shows.”