Fired CNN host Brian Stelter still has three years to go on his $1-million-a-year contract it was revealed Friday, as a key shareholder said he wanted the news network to return to its ‘more centrist’ reporting roots.
Neither Stelter nor CNN have commented on the specifics of the Reliable Sources host’s contract or dismissal, but he’ll almost certainly get to pocket the six-figure sum he’d have earned if the network had allowed him to stay until 2025.
Meanwhile, billionaire media mogul John Malone, who owns Liberty Media – a significant stakeholder in CNN’s new parent company – told The New York Times that he had ‘nothing to do with’ the ouster of the ‘Reliable Sources’ broadcaster.
He did, however, say he wanted ‘the ‘news’ portion of CNN to be more centrist, but I am not in control or directly involved.’
Billionaire media mogul John Malone, pictured, said he had nothing to do with Brian Stelter’s ouster from CNN
Axed CNN host Brian Stelter, pictured, has three years left in his $1 million-a-year contract
CNN CEO Chris Licht warned his staff of future ‘significant’ changes they ‘might not understand or like’ following Stelter’s firing.
‘I want to acknowledge that this is a time of significant change, and I know that many of you are unsettled,’ Licht told his staff, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter. ‘There will be more changes, and you might not understand it or like it.’
Some staff members expressed concerns that Stelter’s departure from the company is an indicator for the removal of other anchors.
‘I think people are legitimately sad that Brian is leaving,’ someone familiar to the situation told Hollywood Reporter. ‘He was a big presence at the network, but (we) understand that Chris has to put his stamp on the network.’
‘There will be more changes, and you might not understand it or like it,’ CNN head Chris Licht (pictured) told staffers following the removal of Brian Stelter
Some CNN staff expressed their concerns for Stelter’s departure as an indicator for the removal of other anchors, like Don Lemon
Stelter had more than three years left on his contract
Stelter confirmed in a statement to NPR that he would be stepping down from the show, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in March.
He added that he was grateful for the show and his team’s examination of ‘the media, truth and the stories that shape our world.’
‘It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential.’
In his call, which echoed his warning to his staff, Licht complimented Stelter’s contributions to CNN while criticizing outside media speculating how the show will move forward.
‘Give it a minute, see how things develop, and then have feedback,’ he said.
Licht, who was hired to be the head of the broadcast news service in February, has made an introduction to the company after a series of layoffs and strategic changes.
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s legal analyst, announced last week that he would not be returning to the network after his vacation.
Some were speculating online that other anchors could be next, with Don Lemon, a lightning rod for the right, being mentioned.
In addition to the in-house loss of staff members, CNN is also shutting down its CNN+ streaming service after less than a month of it being online.
This decision led to 239 employees being laid off.
In light of the show’s staff removals, Licht announced it would be lifting its hiring freeze.
CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin (pictured) announced last week that he would not be returning to the network after his vacation
‘You heard me say in my first town hall that I am going to make decisions slower than some would like,’ Licht said in a June memo.
‘I know this organization has been through tremendous change over the last four months, which is why I am approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully as we look at all parts of the operation.
‘We will continue to realign where it makes sense to best serve our people and the business.’
Stelter, following the announcement that his show was canceled, said on Twitter that its final taping will air Sunday morning.
Stelter’s show, which competed against Fox News’ ‘MediaBuzz,’ did not match up in war for viewership
Additionally, he also taped the show’s final podcast, which is currently available online as of Friday morning.
All of the recent news to the changes at CNN ride alongside a ratings nosedive, with it plunging to less than half of its rival on Fox News and averaging just 787,000 this year.
Stelter’s show struggled, however, in its ratings war with Fox News.
Fox’s rival show, MediaBuzz, has averaged 1.5 million viewers this year, while Reliable Sources had 787,000.
Reliable Sources is having its lowest-rated year since 2015 and has lost 26 percent of its total audience versus last year.
It has shed 34 percent among the 25-54 age range, and 31 percent in the 18-49 demographic.
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