Jim Walton, the worldwide president at CNN – and a 30-year veteran of the news broadcaster – says he will leave at the end of the year. Phil Kent, Turner Broadcasting’s president and CEO as well as Jeff Bewkes, Time-Warner’s chairman/CEO both praised Walton for his efforts at CNN in an exchange of notes.
However, Walton’s departure after 10 years running the operation, comes with the news channel at a low ebb in its US ratings, although most accept that it remains financially extremely viable both in the US and internationally.
Walton’s note to Phil Kent summed up his dilemma: “CNN needs new thinking. That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through.”
Walton will stay on until year-end – in part – because of the upcoming US presidential elections.
Kent praised Walton’s “vision [which] has modernized and globalised our legacy news brand, enhanced CNN’s journalistic standing, positioned it at the forefront of multi-platform branded news content and challenged the organisation to think bigger, reach further and do better.”
Jeff Bewkes added that since Walton’s appointment CNN has tripled earnings, doubled margin and delivered annual growth of 15 per cent.