/// CNN Head Jim Walton Out at Year’s End

July 27, 2012  |  Media Week

CNN announced today that Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, will step down at the end of 2012, until which time he will continue in his current role. The decision is characterized by the network as Walton's own, made with “the support and respect of Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent,” who will lead the search for Walton's replacement. Ratings troubles have dogged CNN for several years, with the network ceding prime time to rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC and finally hitting historical lows in Q2 of 2012 as the news channel's prime-time numbers dropped to levels not seen in 21 years among both total viewers and the important 25-54-year-old demo. Total day numbers, also important for the network, hit an 11-year low in both demos for the same quarter. CNN has a vast and expensive newsroom and a very strong international presence, and while earnings have risen under Walton, ratings have fallen. As the network earned a record $500 million in 2009 and increased in single digits from there the next year, CNN U.S. saw its prime-time lineup implode and its then-president, Jonathan Klein, unceremoniously canned in the wake of that controversy. The network has maintained throughout its ratings difficulties that its first priority is maintaining the integrity of the news—the network earned three Peabody Awards this year—but that longstanding claim that drew criticism when the network misreported the one of the most important stories of the year: the Superme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act late last month. Corporate sibling HBO's series The Newsroom

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