Jeff Zucker’s successor is…Chris Licht

last night i mentioned This is the president of Warner Bros. Discovery David Zaslav He had focused on being chosen as the next president of CNN. I have also reported on the star executive producer Chris Lichtprevious to morning Atmosphere And the CBS this morning, And now the person in charge The late Show with Stephen Colberthas emerged as a major contender for the position he previously held Jeff Zucker. I can now report, based on conversations with sources who spoke directly with Zaslav, that Licht is indeed the person Zaslav chose to run CNN.

A source familiar with the matter said Licht will run CNN as head of news at Warner Bros. Discovery. Unlike Zucker, his competence will not extend to sports. Licht has a deal with CBS that expires in April, according to people familiar with the matter, but his appointment is likely to be announced at or before the Discovery shareholder meeting on March 11. Not responding to a request for comment. Yacht also did not respond to a request for comment.)

There are two immediately interesting components to this development. First, on some level, this makes sense. As I explained last night, the other names in this mix all have some notable flaws. Ben SherwoodThe former president of ABC TV and ABC News has had the most experience, but has had critics among the many former ABC executives who now occupy the top tier at CNN, including interim president and programming specialist. Amy Intellis and Senior Vice President for News Gathering Virginia Moseley. Most cited internal candidate, Andrew MorseHe had digital chips and insight into everyday things but was not seen as capable of filling Zucker’s shoes as a master programmer and entrepreneur. (Also, let’s be honest, with the notable exception of Casey Blues On HBO, the in-house candidate rarely gets the nod in these situations.)

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Meanwhile, the UTA agent Jay Sewers He had contacts but no broadcasting and journalism experience. (Disclosure: I am a UTA customer.) David Rhodes It always sounded like a name taken from Spencer Stewart’s hat – A nameSure, but someone who shined in a bygone era. Josh Terangel It looked like a car filter. Anyway, I’ve since learned that Zaslav never spoke to any of the above names about the job.

Licht, on the surface, also doesn’t look like a specially designed filter. Nominally a super producer, he’s run software but not a department. Also, his Colbert Seems like the kind of liberal-inspired content that supposedly Zaz wants CNN to evolve away from as he turns him back into a mediocre news machine. I remember, of course, the strong Discovery board member John Malone Public comments a few months ago about hoping to bring CNN back toward the center, away from trump-era #resistance playbook- Comments that upset Zucker and his inner circle, I was told.

But despite these issues, hiring a yacht already has serious strategic logic. He was co-creator and original executive producer for MSNBC morning atmosphere, a huge franchise that Zucker would envy, and still among the most influential shows in satellite news today. From there he went to CBS this morning And he ran the show during what is likely to be remembered as his best years. Few had seen how a rebooted and smarter morning show could compete GMA And the Today. To be fair, it didn’t, but he did become a very respectable third place holder with a much smaller budget.

His current success on top in late Time of night Another unusual example of how a news product can be elevated to cultural mainstream. Furthermore, after rocky Colbert made his CBS debut, it was Licht who saved the network’s massive investment – a move that made all his bosses look great in the process as well. Licht may not be Zucker, but he is without a doubt the great producer of his generation with the ability to capture talent and see value where others don’t.

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In the end, it looks like Licht could also be an exemplary Zaslav CEO. Despite spending the past several months in Hollywood glamour, crowding his booth in the Polo Lounge, buying Robert Evans“Old estate, Zazlav built his fortune and created massive corporate value from uninteresting assets, often out of the spotlight. One imagines that Licht could represent the kind of press-shy workaholic who would fit right in with Zaz’s new Warner Bros. Discovery culture. May Hiring an outsider also helps re-calibrate the network toward its middle assets.It is also sure to mark the talent within CNN that a new mayor is in town.

How will CNN staff respond? Time will tell. But Licht’s last success with Joe and MikaAnd the Gail KingAnd the Nora O’Donnell, Colbert notes that he knows how to work with elite talent, not a semi-creative kind of bean off the Wharton conveyor belt. Almost immediately, one supposes, he will focus on his first signature – figuring out who will replace the one who has recently been abandoned. Chris Cuomo At 9 p.m., whether Licht picks an insider or someone entirely new will likely go a long way toward identifying his relationships with the talent in the building, and the high-level agents who help summon the picks three thousand miles away.

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