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CNN Laying Off CNN+ Staff After Streaming Service Failed

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Streaming network CNN+ did not last very long — less than a month — but parent network CNN nevertheless spent months hiring staff and developing programming for the short-lived subscription offering.

And now that the streamer went defunct, those staffers have to go.

According to TVNewser, Warner Bros. Discovery has begun the process of laying off staffers less than a month after pulling the plug on the failed streaming service.

“It is unclear how many people are affected in total, but approximately 23 staffers in CNN’s Hudson Yards offices were told today that their positions were being eliminated, according to a source. Another source confirmed that layoffs had occurred, but noted that the company is still trying to place those impacted CNN+ staffers in other positions around CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery,” TVNewser reported.

Chris Licht, chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide, noted in an internal memo that “all CNN+ employees will continue to be paid and receive benefits for the next 90 days to explore opportunities at CNN, CNN Digital, and elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Discovery family.”

“Staffers who aren’t absorbed in the new Warner Bros. Discovery will receive a minimum of six months of severance, Licht told CNN staffers at a separate town hall,” TVNewser reported.

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“Last month, Warner Bros. Discovery shut down the highly-publicized subscription-based streaming news service CNN+, less than a month after it launched. That decision came less than two weeks after WarnerMedia and Discovery formally merged. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has pledged to find $3 billion in cost savings, raising the likelihood of significant layoffs as the companies combine,” the report added.

One of CNN+’s biggest hires was former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who also got axed while the CNN personalities pulled in to provide programming simply went back to only doing their network shows.

That said, Wallace has since found a new home.

It was announced on Wednesday that Wallace, the former host of “Fox News Sunday,” will bring his new show, “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” to HBO Max with Sunday airings on CNN.

“I’ve never had more fun developing a program and am looking forward to bringing it to both HBO Max and CNN audiences,” the host said, The Washington Post reported.

“Part of the CNN brand is respectful, authentic, and impactful interviews and one of the best interviewers in the business is Chris Wallace,” Licht said.

“Chris and his team developed an engaging and compelling program that we’re excited to bring to HBO Max and include in our CNN Sunday evening programming.”

“Two weeks ago, streaming was king,” Wallace said after the announcement that CNN+ was done.

“Now suddenly streaming is in an ICU on life support. I have absolutely no idea which is right and which is wrong, but the Discovery people are in charge and so they’ve made the decision,” the anchor said.

“I’m in good shape, whether it’s CNN or someplace else.

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“Frankly, what I’m mostly concerned about right now, and very, is my team and hundreds of other people that had jobs at CNN+,” he said.

“Some of them had left CNN to go to streaming. Some of them had left other places, moved across the country,” he said.

“And so, I think you’re seeing a lot of the anchors at CNN+ doing everything they can to protect the people that were working on their team and to make sure they either get a safe landing at CNN or someplace else,” Wallace said.

Licht, who came onboard after Jeff Zucker left the company, appears to want to take the network in a more straight news direction and away from partisan politics.

“I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics of journalism,” he said in a memo to staff.

“Fearlessly speaking truth to power, Challenging the status quo, Questioning ‘group-think’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary while always being respectful of differing viewpoints,” he said.

“First and foremost, we should, and we will be advocates for the truth,” he added.

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