Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Report: CNN Not For Sale

Despite widespread speculation to the contrary, AT&T will not sell CNN after its acquisition of parent Time Warner closes, according to AT&T Entertainment Group chief John Stankey.

In his first interview since he was named as the executive to lead Time Warner — which will soon have a new name — Stankey tells The Hollywood Reporter that he considers news to be much like sports in terms of providing content that is urgent and watchable on a variety of devices. “It would be a strategically missed opportunity if we weren’t in that business,” he says.

John Stanky
There will be no changes with respect to CNN's editorial independence. “You can’t run a national news organization with that importance to our society without maintaining its editorial independence,” Stankey says. Though he has not at this point spent a substantial amount of time with Jeff Zucker, Stankey says the CNN Worldwide president has expanded the brand and its audience. (CNN has slipped into third place in primetime, behind a surging MSNBC and Fox News.)

As for Time Warner’s TMZ, which has also been the subject of sale speculation, Stankey says he is still unfamiliar with the property. Overall, however, he says AT&T is buying a collection of assets and has “no intention to divest any of that or restructure it, unequivocally, bar none.”

Stankey, a 30-year AT&T veteran, was tapped last week to oversee Time Warner’s assets once AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition is approved. U.S. antitrust officials, who have been reviewing the proposed deal for months, are poised to approve the deal, Bloomberg recently reported. If so, Stankey is about to become one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, overseeing a portfolio that includes HBO, Warner Bros., Turner networks and, yes, CNN.

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