CNN doesn’t seem to be having a very good summer. The left-leaning network has positioned itself as a foil to President Donald Trump and conservatives as a whole, but now there are signs that it is struggling even while Fox News surges ahead.
Several days ago, we noted that the cable network recently decided to scale back its health care coverage team, which likely means that some employees at its Atlanta headquarters will be losing their jobs.
Now, an additional report suggests CNN may be consolidating staff, a possible warning sign of larger problems.
According to The Guardian, about 90 minutes of daily content that is currently produced in London will be replaced with U.S. programming, a decision that seems intended to reduce overhead.
“CNN is preparing to make substantial cuts to its London-based television news operation in a move that is likely to result in at least a dozen employees losing their jobs,” the newspaper explained on Tuesday.
“Staff, including some managers whose shows were affected, were given no advance warning of the announcement, according to some of those present,” The Guardian continued.
“London-based shows such as the discussion programme CNN Talk will be cut completely as the company focuses its British office on its online offering at the expense of its traditional TV channels.”
The likely reason? Money. During a “town hall” employee meeting at the network’s London location, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker revealed that the international channel was losing some $10 million annually, the U.K. newspaper said.
A television industry blog named TVNewser, created by CNN’s own Brian Stelter, seemed to downplay the consolidation and reported that “overall headcount will be unchanged.”
But The Guardian had a much less rosy picture of the situation, and explained that it’s unlikely all of the network’s London employees will be able to keep their jobs.
“Although most London-based roles are being relocated to Atlanta, New York and Abu Dhabi, many British staff are not expecting to be able to take up the jobs. Some hope to make the move, but have been warned that they would not automatically be considered for the relocated roles,” the newspaper reported.
If this were just an isolated report, it might be easy to shrug off as industry chatter. But combined with other recent reports about layoffs and consolidations, CNN definitely seems to be struggling.
And the recent announcements appear to fly in the face of the network’s official corporate line.
“There are no mass layoffs at CNN. I have no idea where that crazy rumor came from,” CNN executive vice president Allison Gollust told Fox News on May 7.
“We have recently offered a voluntary buyout option for employees, and just over 100 people voluntarily decided to take it. That’s it,” she said.
But just as with the London shakeup, news that the network’s health coverage division would be folded came as a major surprise to employees.
“Staffers are shocked, as the health department is considered successful and CNN recently declared that no layoffs were imminent,” Fox News reported about that decision.
The core problem may be that the network’s programming just isn’t resonating with viewers.
The channel is lagging in the ratings, with Fox News — to CNN’s chagrin — dominating the viewership numbers.
CNN’s prime-time ratings for April dropped 26 percent, making last month its lowest-rated for prime-time viewers since October 2015.
Americans — and Brits, it seems — are looking for fact-based reporting and commentary that is based on reality.
Instead, CNN seems to have doubled down on “outrage politics” and tilting at Trump-shaped windmills.
There are probably good people working for the network who will now be out of jobs, if the reports of downsizing are accurate.
We feel bad for them, but at the same time, the network could have corrected course a long time ago and avoided this.
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