CNN Chairman Jeff Zucker to stay at WarnerMedia at least until Discovery deal closes

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker speaks before the screening of First Lady Michelle Obama’s new CNN film We Will Rise: Michelle Obamas Mission to Educate Girls Around the World on October 11, 2016.

Cheriss May | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Jeff Zucker will not be leaving WarnerMedia at the end of the year.

The president of WarnerMedia News and Sports plans to stay with the company at least until the AT&T merger of the media division with Discovery firm, assuming it gets regulatory approval, according to people familiar with the matter. Zucker had previously said he was planning to leave at the end of this year at the end of his employment contract and reiterated he hasn’t changed his mind in May, after the Discovery agreement was announced.

Zucker has yet to officially say anything and has no discussions about a new role with Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who will take charge of the new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Zucker cannot legally discuss the details of a position in a Warner Bros. Combined Discovery due to so-called “gun jump” regulations that do not allow integration discussions before a merger is completed.

A spokesperson for WarnerMedia declined to comment.

Zucker has been leading CNN since 2013 and is one of the few executives to stay at WarnerMedia after AT&T acquired Time Warner in 2018. He continued to lead the cable news network even after his promotion in 2019 which tasked him with overseeing the sports of WarnerMedia.

Zucker has a reputation for being a close communicator with CNN employees and is widely respected by the best talents in the network. He improved CNN ratings by focusing on the lies and erratic behavior of President Donald Trump throughout his presidency. Zucker also expanded the prime-time news network’s programming with shows such as “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” and “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy”. Last month, Zucker and digital chef Andrew Morse spearheaded CNN’s announcement that it will launch a new streaming service, CNN +, in 2022.

Zucker also drew attention to his relationship with Trump, resulting from the executive promotion of Trump as a reality TV star on NBC’s “The Apprentice” and his decision not to punish presenter Chris Cuomo for participating in strategic appeals regarding allegations of sexual misconduct against her brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. New York Attorney General Letitia James said Governor Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women and then retaliated against a former employee who publicly complained about his conduct. in a report published this week. Andrew Cuomo denied the allegations on Tuesday.

Zucker could secure an important leadership role under Zaslav, who has known Zucker for almost 30 years. The two men worked at NBC in the early 1990s and maintained a close friendship.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

WATCH: David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery at Sun Valley: We’re not done making deals yet

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