CNN president says he wants to ‘try some things’ in Chris Cuomo’s former space

Chris Licht, CNN’s new president, told employees at a town hall meeting Thursday that he hopes to have a new show at 9 pm this fall after experimenting with that time during the summer.

The 9 pm hour is a pivotal time for the network, historically generating some of CNN’s highest ratings and providing valuable advertising revenue. Previous anchor Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN last year following an investigation into his efforts to help his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Let’s try some things at 9 o’clock,” Licht said, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The New York Times. “Let’s have some fun with that. Let’s try some things. But my intention is to have a show ready to launch in the fall at 9 o’clock.”

Thursday’s meeting, which lasted more than an hour, was the first time Licht had spoken to CNN employees since taking over as CNN’s president this week. Licht addressed them in late April when he shut down CNN+, the ambitious venture that aimed to provide a bridgehead for the broadcast network.

A CNN spokesman declined to comment.

During the town hall, Mr. Licht was interviewed by Erin Burnett, host of CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” which airs weekdays at 7 p.m.

During the town hall, Ms. Burnett asked Mr. Licht about his approach to CNN’s morning programming, which includes “New Day” and “Early Start.” Mr. Licht said he thought CNN’s morning show could be a “disruptive force,” adding that he planned to work with CNN executive producer Eric Hall to figure out the future of its early programming.

“Once I find out where the bathrooms are, one of the things I really look forward to is sitting down with him and his team and finding out what this show can be.” Mr. Licht said.

The last few months have been a tumultuous period for CNN. The network’s president, Jeff Zucker, resigned in February after failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a close colleague.

Mr. Licht also said during the town hall that he hoped Chris Wallace, the former “Fox News Sunday” host who hosted a show on CNN+, would stay with the network. Mr. Licht called Mr. Wallace a “tremendous talent” and added that the network was also working on a podcast and a show with former NPR host Audie Cornish, who also hosted a show on CNN+.

The Puck news site previously reported that CNN plans to keep Chris Wallace on the network and is moving his show to the HBO Max streaming service.

In response to a question about the layoffs, Mr. Licht said he did not plan to make any major cuts to CNN’s employee base.

“This is an organization that has taken hit after hit after hit,” Mr. Licht said. “And most organizations would not have survived.”

Towards the end of the town hall, Mr. Licht said he has had conversations with Mr. Zucker about how CNN employees don’t filter, adding that he thought the network had “moved away from that a little bit.”

“Let’s make this a reset,” Licht said.

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