CNN Worldwide Commercial president Rani Raad is leaving after 25 years at the company, Chris Licht told staff via memo Monday morning.
New York Times media reporter Ben Mullin first reported the news via Twitter.
Phil Nelson is leading the CNNIC team in the interim, reporting into Chris Marlin.
Raad joined the company 25 years ago, starting his career in New York as a research department intern before holding a number of senior international roles with CNN and then the parent company.
Former WarnerMedia chairman of news and sports/CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker appointed Raad president of CNN Commercial in May 2020, a new global role meant to broaden the company’s new business streams and increase the value CNN provides to commercial partners around the world.
In this role, Raad worked closely with WarnerMedia Sales and International on CNN advertising and distribution activity. He also led international business through CNN International Commercial, optimized CNN Worldwide’s directly controlled revenue operations and was tasked with maximizing the commercial potential of development of new products.
In 2013, as the president of CNN International Commercial, Raad combined all business operations of CNN’s properties outside of the U.S. within the division, including advertising, sponsorship, content sales and licensing, out of home, marketing, and audiences and data. He also introduced a cross-platform and data-led strategy with increased digital capabilities, tailored for a wide range of client and market needs across more than 200 countries and territories.
Raad sent a farewell note to CNN staff Monday, obtained by TVNewser:
It is hard to sum up 25 years of incredible memories and milestones in one email. It is even harder to call-out and give proper credit to all the great people who have had such a profound impact on me over that time. So, I will keep this short.
I have been with this company, with its many different leaders and owners, since I left college and joined as a research intern in New York in 1998. And over that time, I have had the privilege to work all over the world in various roles. From restructuring the portfolio of brands in Turkey to taking CNN in-language to hundreds of millions of people in markets stretching from Lisbon to Jakarta. From building our news and entertainment businesses in the Middle East to making CNN the go-to business partner for global brands. From negotiating with the biggest media buyers in the world to negotiating to get our journalists out of prison at 4am in the morning.
I have so many memories of the experiences and achievements. But for all that I have seen and done, there is a common thread that I will treasure most.
Every single day I have had the privilege of working for a brand that has such a profound impact on the world. And I have done it alongside people who care so deeply about what they do. There is no way those business milestones would have been achieved without the ambition, skills, attitude and passion of those at CNN Commercial. And there is no way we could have done it without the dedication and integrity of our editorial colleagues. The combined sense of purpose in these two organisations in unmatched. And whatever commercial success I achieved, it was on the shoulders of talented colleagues with whom I worked.
But now it is the right time for me to move on to new challenges and pass that stewardship of this amazing group to new leadership. I wish all of you the very best for the future. CNNIC, you got this!
Additionally, below is Licht’s note to staff, also obtained by TVNewser:
I want to announce that Rani Raad is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery. We thank him for his 25 years of service, most recently heading the team as President CNN WorldWide Commercial. We wish Rani all the best in his future endeavors.
I’m grateful for Phil Nelson’s leadership of the CNNIC team over the past weeks. Phil will continue leading the CNNIC team in the interim, reporting into Chris Marlin. Over the coming weeks we will work expeditiously to develop and formalize an exciting plan and future for CNNIC in the context of our broader vision for CNN globally.
The CNNIC unit is a key part of our growth strategy in 2023 and beyond. I’m sure there are many questions about structure and how we will interact with the Sport team. We will work through all this as soon as possible. In the meantime, I know this team is eager and well-equipped to work with our partners around the world to deliver another strong year.
With gratitude –