Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent sat down for an interview with Broadcasting & Cable and discussed the challenges facing CNN. Though much of the focus surrounding the ratings-deprived network has been on on-air talent, Kent said the roles behind the camera needed attention.
According to TVNewser, Kent told Broadcasting & Cable:
I think we have a lot of good talent. I think what we’ve had, quite frankly, is not enough great behind-the-camera talent. I think we have a number of fantastic producers at CNN but we need more. A lot of attention was given to on-camera talent but probably not enough commensurate attention to producing talent, and Jeff understands even more than I do how important that is-TV is a producer’s medium.
In January, Jeff Zucker took over as CNN's new president and has been in the process of relaunching some programming blocks as well as hiring and firing talent. The network hired Jake Tapper, gave him his own 4:00 p.m. show (that debuted last week) and dubbed him the "face of the new CNN." Zucker also moved Soledad O'Brien off the network's morning show and is launching a new show co-hosted by Chris Cuomo and a yet-to-be-named female co-host.
Kent's interview landed on the same day The New Republic published an interview with MSNBC chief Phil Griffin, who Zucker hired as the cable network's president back in 2006 (when Zucker ran NBC Universal).
Now faced with Zucker as his direct competitor, Griffin, who turned MSNBC into a steady leader over CNN, seemed ready for the challenge. "All I know is I kicked CNN’s ass without Jeff Zucker. Now I gotta kick his ass, too," Griffin said.
Kent has spoken candidly about the network's woes in the past. When CNN hit record-low ratings in May 2012, Kent admitted he was "very unhappy" with the situation. He said the network hadn't "put the best shows on the air," and added that some shows "probably need to be replaced."