Chris Licht, programming executive and producer at CBS, is set to succeed Jeff Zucker as president of CNN ahead of the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, which is completed in April, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TheWrap.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav could name Licht as the new CNN president as early as next week, as Discovery is scheduled to hold a special shareholders meeting on March 11. Licht currently serves as EVP of special programming at CBS and as the executive producer of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” having previously served in the same role on “CBS This Morning” and on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Licht is known to have formed close relationships with the on-air talent that he has worked with, a trait that he shares with Zucker, who built a great deal of loyalty at CNN and whose departure led to tense meetings with WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar earlier this month. Zucker was ousted earlier this month after disclosing a personal relationship with the network’s chief marketing officer Allison Gollust, who also resigned shortly after Zucker’s departure.
Meanwhile, Chris Cuomo, who was fired over reports that he participated in strategy meetings with his brother and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over how to handle sexual harassment accusations against him, is reportedly considering suing his former employer for the remaining money on his contract.
In a memo to network staffers, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said Cuomo, Zucker and Gollust committed multiple violations of CNN’s standards and practices, though did not say specifically what the violations were.
Beyond having to rally a network rocked by scandal, Licht will also have to oversee the launch of CNN’s new streaming service CNN+, which will feature former “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace along with other news and documentary programming. It is unclear how Zaslav and Discovery leadership plan to handle the service and whether it will be bundled with other streaming offerings in the merged portfolio, including HBO Max and Discovery+.
TheWrap has reached out to CNN for comment. The hiring was first reported by Puck News.