Former CNN chief Jeff Zucker may no longer be running things at the news network, but his deep knowledge of the organization gives him an insider’s advantage in knowing its true value, such that he believes “it’s a great asset.”
Zucker has kept a relatively low profile since his CNN ouster, but has still kept busy leading media investment firm RedBird IMI, a joint venture between U.S. private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and Dubai-based International Media Investments (IMI).
Zucker’s CNN comments came from a question posed to him by Seana Smith during Tuesday’s Yahoo Finance Invest conference, where he touched on the state of the cable industry, coverage of the current Israel-Hamas war, the 2024 presidential elections, and his former network.
When asked whether he would be interested in buying CNN, Zucker said, “We’re certainly not looking at it; it’s not for sale. You know, I think what we’ve always said is any asset of that stature — CNN is a fantastic asset.”
He added, “Anything that that came to market, we would obviously look at. It’s not something that we’re actively thinking about pursuing. It’s absolutely, as far as we know, not for sale. So there was no truth in any way whatsoever to that Variety report this summer. Some day, if it were available, like any other great asset, we would look at it. And that’s not to say yes or no. It’s just to say it’s a great asset. If the time came, we would look at it.”
Zucker also weighed in on CNN’s relaunched streaming efforts, saying, “This is something we were thinking about when we were there. And obviously, it’s a major focus for them today, as it needs to be. I mean, the reality is you have to meet the consumer where they are. And, you know, I think that the linear aspect will continue to be important, but they have to play digitally; they have to play in streaming.”
Zucker, in recent days, has been speaking more about his former network. In an interview with The Financial Times, he disclosed that he has not missed being at CNN, with one exception: “Right now, with what’s going on in Israel and Gaza, I think it’s an incredibly important story. . . this is really the only time since I’ve left where I’ve regretted not being part of it.”
He added, “In the time I’ve left, I’ve watched very little CNN. But I’ve watched more in the last week . . . and they’ve done an excellent job. I think this [sort of story] is what CNN was built for . . . their resources are unmatched.”
Zucker had kind words for CNN’s new chief, Mark Thompson, saying, “It’s a tough job, at a tough time in all media, but he’s got the right skill set to have a real impact . . .he’ll do great.”
When asked to comment on the short reign of Chris Licht, Zucker said, “I don’t think there’s anything I can add to everything that’s been said about that already.” When pressed about Licht’s comments towards him in the infamous The Atlantic article, Zucker said, “I felt…that I had to go to the gym.”