CNN could be headed by former New York Times boss and BBC boss, while Warner Bros. Discovery searches for a successor to short-lived boss Chris Licht.
Mark Thompson, 66, is a respected British media executive who sources say Semafor was being considered for the role.
Since Licht was fired in June after a disastrous profile in the Atlantic, CNN has been temporarily run by a triumvirate of experienced network leaders.
The trio – Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley and Eric Sherling – are among the names most frequently cited as possible permanent replacements.
They are working with David Leavy, a top deputy to Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav, who was named CNN’s chief operating officer in late May.
Other names in the mix include CBS Mornings executive producer Shawna Thomas, who spent a decade at NBC News working on Vice and Quibi.
Mark Thompson, who served as BBC director-general before running the New York Times for eight years, could become CNN’s new boss, Semafor reported on Wednesday
Chris Licht was fired in June after 13 months at the helm of CNN
Amy Entelis, one of three people currently running CNN, is among the top candidates for the full-time position
David Leavy, CNN’s chief operating officer, is another person believed to be running for the top job
Thompson ran The New York Times from 2012 to 2020, and during his eight-year tenure oversaw the publication’s transition from print to digital.
A veteran media manager, he began his career at the British Broadcasting Corporation, joining in 1979 as a production intern, eventually becoming editor of Nine O’Clock News and Panorama and later director of television.
He left the BBC in 2002 to become Managing Director of Channel 4 but returned when he was appointed Managing Director in May 2004, a position he held until 2012.
Thompson has not commented on the reports and it’s unclear if he would accept the job.
Semafor reports that the veteran manager enjoys spending time at his home in Maine.
He also holds a number of prestigious board positions at institutions such as the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Jeff Zucker is pictured in Manhattan on Wednesday. The former head of CNN is one of the names mentioned in media circles as a possible new head of the station
Zucker, 58, is said to still be angry at being forced to resign from CNN in February 2022
Last month, Zucker denied a Variety report that he had spent the past year rallying support for the Warner Bros. network’s purchase. He turned to billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Roman Abramovich, and Gulf sheiks to encourage investment.
Zucker, 58, resigned from CNN in February 2022 after it was revealed he was in a relationship with a staffer, Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and one of the network’s most senior executives.
His departure was also tied to ethical issues surrounding fired presenter Chris Cuomo’s interviews with his brother, then-Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.
Zucker’s successor, Chris Licht, was sacked in June this year after just 13 months in office – amid rumors that Zucker intended to sabotage his successor.
Variety claimed Zucker was working to bring together a consortium to buy CNN — a report strongly denied by Zucker himself, who called it a “total joke.”
Jeff Zucker served as CNN’s president for nearly a decade until he was ousted from office in February 2022. Variety reported Tuesday that the powerful media exec wanted to buy the station — Zucker’s rep insisted that wasn’t true
Variety reported that Jeff Bezos (left) and Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich (right) were approached about going along with a takeover bid for CNN: Zucker denied the report
Variety reported that the powerful media executive, who has worked for a UAE-backed private equity firm since leaving CNN, publicized his plan to buy the network around the world.
Zucker is now at RedBird IMI, a digital media, sports, entertainment and news investment fund founded by RedBird Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and International Media Investments, a funder with ties to the UAE government became .
In August 2022, a Turkish bank sent a letter to the Istanbul office of law firm Clifford Chance, mentioning Clifford Chance as the firm representing Zucker in “the acquisition of CNN Worldwide,” according to Variety sources.
According to Variety, the letter states that Clifford Chance “is valid for the round of negotiations with potential investors and is governed by the attached confidential contract in accordance with the commercial legislation of Turkey.”
Zucker’s spokesman denied any dealings with the bank or law firm.
Zucker’s attempt to boost investment is said to have been aided by Rani Raad, the former president of CNN Commercial Worldwide, who left CNN shortly after Licht’s arrival to join Zucker at RedBird IMI.
In November 2022, Zucker was at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to watch Formula 1 racing and discuss possible deals with Gulf colleagues and wealthy partners.
Among them, according to Variety, was Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer bin Mohammed Al Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling royal family and chairman of Al-Jazeera.
Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer bin Mohammed Al Thani, a Qatari king and chairman of Al Jazeera, was approached by one of Zucker’s colleagues, Variety said
Laurene Powell Jobs, a $21 billion entrepreneur and philanthropist, was also wanted by Zucker’s team, according to Variety
Around the same time, Variety reported, Zucker approached Jeff Bezos, Laurene Powell Jobs — Steve Jobs’ widow who has a net worth of $21 billion — and George Soros’ son Alex Soros about investing in his CNN offer.
Variety said Zucker recently spoke to Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira about the potential purchase of CNN, who owns CNN Portugal and licenses the news channel’s content.
Zucker’s spokesman denied all approaches.
“Any allegation or suggestion that Jeff made any effort to buy CNN is clearly false,” said a spokeswoman for Zucker.
“He’s never had a meeting or conversation with anyone about buying CNN.”
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery said, “Warner Bros. Discovery is committed to CNN. ‘It is not for sale.’
Some analysts disagreed, but said the idea that a consortium of Gulf businessmen, Russians and other foreign individuals could take control of a valuable US asset would raise eyebrows.
Hal Vogel, a Wall Street analyst, told Variety that David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, probably wouldn’t approve of a sale to such a group.
“CNN is not for sale, but it is for sale at the right price,” Vogel said.
“Zaslav still has over $40 billion in debt that’s putting pressure on him to get rid of things.”
“And so CNN would be involved.”
“But Emirates’ money could be the limit.” A foreign company that wants to invest in CNN doesn’t buy it for profit. They buy it to gain influence.’
Heller, Zucker’s spokesman, condemned Variety’s report — they insisted they were going through with it.
“There used to be a time when Variety held its content and its reporters to high standards of truth and fact in journalism, but those days are clearly over.” wrong,” Heller told The Wrap.
“We have made it clear to the reporter and her editors on numerous occasions that they plan to publish countless anecdotes and alleged incidents that never happened.” They did it anyway.’
CNN heavyweights Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust and Don Lemon have been spotted dining on the Amalfi Coast – there have been rumors they may be planning a bid for the embattled network
Lemon’s vacation photos also come amid rumors that network boss David Zaslay is looking to sell it, with Zucker emerging as the front runner when it comes to snagging it
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav may be looking to sell CNN after a tumultuous year, insiders have claimed. He is pictured on June 12
In July, Zucker, Gollust and sacked news anchor Don Lemon were spotted dining on the Amalfi Coast – rumored they could be planning a takeover bid for the embattled broadcaster.
In a photo shared by Lemon on social media, they were seen enjoying a sunset dinner with fellow vacationer super agent Jay Sures.
The group met on the tiny island enclave of Ponza, off the west coast of Italy.
Lemon, 57, who was banned from CNN in April, has posted photos of himself and husband Tim Malone celebrating the Fourth of July on the Amalfi Coast, including videos of the duo jumping from boats into bright blue water .
In another Instagram post from the same trip, photos of the larger group’s meal are featured for a millisecond as part of a rapid-fire reel with the caption, “Create memories with great friends.”