Former CNN host Piers Morgan thinks that CNN President Jeff Zucker should be more like former owner Ted Turner, and focus more on the brand and not the ratings.
Morgan made his comments in an exclusive interview with Politico:
‘I’ve always felt that CNN should be more resilient to media criticism about monthly or quarterly ratings,’ Morgan says. ‘Ted Turner once described CNN to me as The New York Times of television. We don’t care about chasing ratings or chasing readers. We care about having a brand that is so trusted that whenever anything important happens in the world, people turn us on.’
‘If I was running CNN, if I was Jeff Zucker, I would come out and do an interview with someone like you, and I would say, ‘I’m not going to discuss ratings again,’’ Morgan continues. ‘Our business proposition is not predicated on ratings, our global brand is not dependent on how we rate at 9 p.m. in America.’
I’m sure Zucker would prefer not to have to concern himself with ratings—especially since CNN’s are so low—but he has to because it’s what determines advertising rates, and therefore profits, for the network.
The reason that Turner could ignore the ratings was that when he owned CNN, and its spinoff HLN (formerly CNN Headline News), they were the only cable news networks in the country. Fox News Channel and MSNBC didn’t exist.
Today it’s a different story, with Fox News dominating the cable ratings for the last 12 years and becoming enormously profitable as a result, while MSNBC and CNN fight over what’s left.
Morgan said that Zucker told him it was impossible to sustain a nightly interview program because there weren’t enough guests, which is absurd unless Zucker was referring to articulate liberals, who are few and far between.
Since Morgan’s departure, CNN has continued to struggle in the ratings as it moves away from news to more entertainment-oriented programming.