CNN announced Wednesday that British media veteran Mark Thompson would assume the role of its next CEO, as the news outlet struggles to reverse a ratings decline.
Thompson — the former director-general of the BBC as well as the former president and CEO of The New York Times Company — will begin the position on October 9, CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery said in a statement.
He takes over after the embattled former head Chris Licht stepped down in June, having faced controversy for editorial decisions including a town hall meeting with former president Donald Trump that was dominated by cheering from supporters and jeering at moderator Kaitlan Collins.
“Mark has a formidable record, and I have long admired his leadership and ability to inspire organizations to raise their own ambitions and sense of what’s possible — and achieve it,” said David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, in a statement.
“I am confident he is exactly the leader we need to take the helm of CNN at this pivotal time.”
Thompson was director-general of the BBC from 2004 to 2012, before helming The New York Times Company from 2012 to 2020, a period in which the prestigious American newspaper made major transitions into the digital age and saw its subscriptions soar, with more than 10 million in 2023.
CNN has faced a steady stream of recent crises, with falling ratings and profits, and a number of high-profile departures including Chris Cuomo, who was fired for helping defend his brother, Andrew Cuomo, as the former New York governor faced sexual misconduct allegations.
And in February 2022 former CNN president and powerful media executive Jeff Zucker stepped down after it came to light he failed to disclose a romantic relationship with a colleague.
Among Thompson’s first missions will be launching CNN Max, the company’s streaming service, on September 27.
A previous foray into streaming, CNN+, was scrapped at a loss in April 2022, just weeks after its launch.
The decision was made by new management after CNN’s former parent company, WarnerMedia, merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery earlier that month.