Fired CNN anchor Brian Stelter has three years left to finalize his $1 million-a-year contract, it was revealed Friday when a major shareholder said he wanted the news network to return to its “rather centrist” reporting roots returns.
Neither Stelter nor CNN have commented on the details of the contract or the firing of the Reliable Sources host, but he will almost certainly pocket the six-figure sum he would have earned if the network had allowed him to stay until 2025.
Meanwhile, billionaire media mogul John Malone, who owns Liberty Media – a major shareholder of CNN’s new parent company – told the New York Times that he had “nothing to do with the downfall” of broadcaster Reliable Sources.
However, he said he wanted “the ‘news’ portion of CNN to become more centrist, but I don’t have control nor am I directly involved.”
“I’d love to see CNN go back to the kind of journalism it started out with and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” he told CNBC.
Billionaire media mogul John Malone, pictured, said he had nothing to do with Brian Stelter’s departure from CNN
Deleted CNN host Brian Stelter (pictured) has three years left on his $1 million-a-year contract
CNN CEO Chris Licht warned his employees about future “significant” changes that they “may not understand or like” after Stelter’s firing.
“I want to acknowledge that this is a time of significant change, and I know many of you are unsettled,” Licht told his staff, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter. “There will be more changes, and you may not understand or like it.”
Some employees expressed concern that Stelter’s departure from the company was an indicator of other anchors falling away.
“I think people are rightly sad that Brian is leaving,” someone familiar with the situation told The Hollywood Reporter. “He’s had a huge presence on the network, but (we) understand Chris needs to make his mark on the network.”
“There will be more changes, and you may not understand or like it,” CNN boss Chris Licht (pictured) told staffers after Brian Stelter’s removal
Some CNN staffers expressed concern about Stelter’s departure as an indicator of the removal of other anchors, such as Don Lemon
Stelter still had more than three years of contract
Stelter confirmed in a statement to NPR that he would be stepping down from the show, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in March.
He added he was grateful for the show and his team’s exposure to “the media, the truth, and the stories that shape our world.”
“It has been a rare privilege to headline a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been so momentous.”
In his appeal, which reiterated his warning to his staff, Licht praised Stelter’s contributions to CNN while also criticizing outside media speculating about how the show will progress.
“Give it a minute, see how things go and then give feedback,” he said.
Licht, who was hired in February as head of broadcast intelligence, has unveiled the company after a series of layoffs and strategic changes.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin announced last week that he would not be returning to the network after his leave.
Some have speculated online that other anchors may be next, with mention of Don Lemon, a lightning rod for the right.
In addition to the internal loss of employees, CNN is also shutting down its CNN+ streaming service after being online for less than a month.
This decision resulted in the layoff of 239 employees.
In light of the show’s downsizing, Licht announced it would lift the hiring freeze.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin (pictured) announced last week that he would not be returning to the network after his leave
“You heard me say at my first town hall that I will be making decisions more slowly than some would like,” Licht said in a June memo.
“I know this organization has gone through tremendous changes in the last four months, so I’m taking this process slowly and deliberately as we look at all parts of the operation.
‘We will continue to realign where it makes sense to best serve our people and the company.’
Stelter, after announcing his show was canceled, said on Twitter that the final taping will air on Sunday morning.
Stelter’s show, which competed with Fox News’ MediaBuzz, couldn’t keep up in the battle for viewership
In addition, he also recorded the show’s final podcast, which is currently available online as of Friday morning.
All of the recent news of CNN’s changes has come with a ratings nosedive, falling to less than half its Fox News rival and averaging just 787,000 this year.
However, Stelter’s show fought in the ratings war with Fox News.
Fox’s rival show, MediaBuzz, averaged 1.5 million viewers this year, while Reliable Sources had 787,000.
Reliable Sources is having its worst year since 2015, losing 26 percent of its total audience compared to the previous year.
It has lost 34 percent in the 25-54 age group and 31 percent in the 18-49 age group.