CNN Set to Name Mark Thompson as New CEO

Thompson replaces Chris Licht, who was fired in June

BBC Director General Mark Thompson in 2010
BBC Director General Mark Thompson in 2010, photo via Getty Images

After a week of rumors and speculation, Mark Thompson will be named CNN’s new CEO. The former director-general of the BBC and CEO of the New York Times will lead the news organization following the firing of former CNN CEO Chris Licht in June 2023, according to multiple media reports.

The possibility was first reported Aug. 24. The network, which has been led by a combination of CNN executives, has struggled against changes in cable news. Warner Bros. Discovery representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

Thompson began his career at the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee and climbed the ranks at the news organization over the years until 2012 when he was named the president and CEO of The New York Times.

His impact at the Times was enormous. Thompson was at the helm as the paper transitioned from a print-first advertising-focused structure to a digital-first subscription model. It’s likely Thompson will shepherd CNN fully into the digital age, especially as Warner Bros. Discovery builds a 24-hour livestream channel for the network on the streaming platform Max.

He stepped down from the paper in 2020, which paved the way for Meredith Kopit Levien to take over the role.

Thompson explained at the time, “I’ve chosen this moment to step down because we have achieved everything I set out to do when I joined the Times Company eight years ago—and because I know that, in Meredith, I have an outstanding successor who is ready to lead the company on to its next chapter.”

His statement continued, “There’s nothing that makes me more proud than the fact that our newsroom is substantially larger today than when I joined. The world needs Times journalism now more than ever.”

The search for a new CEO at CNN began in June when David Leavy was named the network’s chief operating officer. Following the ousting of former CNN CEO Chris Licht, Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling were named as interim editorial leaders. It’s unclear if Entelis, Moseley, and Sherling will all remain at CNN.

Many at CNN are reportedly surprised by how quickly the search for a CEO has moved, and some believed that Entelis Moseley, and Sherling would continue to head the organization through the 2024 election.