Television news executive Jeff Zucker, best known for his tenure at NBC and his work in making the Today show a ratings winner, will become president of CNN Worldwide in January, the network announced Thursday. Zucker will replace Jim Walton, who announced in July that he would be stepping down from the position he’d held since 2003.
Zucker, 47, will be responsible for overseeing CNN’s 23 different news operations, including its U.S. broadcast network, the cable news channel HLN, CNN Digital and CNN International.
Beginning his career with NBC as a researcher for their Olympics department, Zucker ascended through the network ranks, eventually landing a job as producer for Today in 1989. Within three years he became executive producer. Under his tenure the show hit the top of the ratings chart and remained there while he held the post. Afterward, Zucker was promoted to the chief spot at NBC Entertainment and later to the head of NBC Universal, where he helmed a massive news and entertainment organization whose properties included MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo. His tenure at NBC Universal ended in 2010 when Comcast purchased part of the company. Zucker has spent the last year working with former Today host Katie Couric to get Katie, her daytime talk show for ABC, off the ground.
“In a career that has seen significant professional success in both broadcast and cable, Jeff has demonstrated his ability to run multiple lines of business and fiercely defend journalists and journalism,” said Phil Kent, CEO of CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting. (Turner Broadcasting and Time Inc., the parent company of TIME.com, are both owned by Time Warner.)
Zucker, who had been widely rumored to be favored for the job, will be tasked with turning around ratings for CNN’s flagship U.S. network, which have been in decline in recent years.
“I am thrilled to join the distinguished team of journalists across the worldwide platforms of CNN,” said Zucker in a statement released Thursday. “The global reach and scale of the CNN brand is unparalleled in all of news. Outside of my family and the Miami Dolphins, there is nothing I am as passionate about as journalism.”