Thirty years at the company, 10 years at the top . . . now CNN boss Jim Walton has decided to quit, saying a new leader is needed. He will step down at the end of this year .
Behind Walton's decision is the network's continued failure to make headway in the battle for ratings.
Rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC have steamrollered CNN in prime time. In the second quarter of 2012. Adweek reported that the news channel's prime-time numbers dropped to levels not seen in 21 years among both total viewers and the important 25-54-year-old demographic. Total day numbers hit an 11-year low in both demos for the same quarter.
Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent will lead the search for Walton's replacement.
CNN has "a vast and expensive newsroom and a very strong international presence," said Adweek. Earnings have risen under Walton - but ratings have fallen. The network earned a record $500 million in 2009 and increased again the the next year.
The US home of Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper, the network has maintained that its first priority is maintaining the integrity of its news.
But there was a recent clang when it misreported last month rthe Supreme Court's ruling on Obama's Health Act.
In a note to staff, Walton said t he'd been thinking about the move "for some time," and that he would both work out the year and continue to be available after December. Walton said that he was "proud of what we have accomplished together over these last 10 years," but added that "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," said Walton.
Kent said Walton had "modernised and globalised our legacy news brand" and praised his business acumen. "I am honored to work alongside him and proud to call him my friend," Kent wrote.
Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said CNN's earning were "in serious decline" when Walton took over the brand in 2003. Under Walton's tenure, earnings had tripled and margins had doubled, despite the network's current woes.