Jeff Zucker may take over at CNN. (Associated Press )
CNN has tapped Jeff Zucker as its new leader.
Zucker, the former chief executive of NBCUniversal, will succeed Jim Walton as president of CNN Worldwide. Walton announced in July he would leave at the end of this year and Zucker will take over starting in January.
A former producer of NBC's highly successful morning news program "Today," Zucker was the front runner to succeed Walton as head of the cable news channel. He will report to Phil Kent, the president of Turner Broadcasting, the Time Warner unit that houses CNN.
"Jeff’s experience as a news executive is unmatched for its breadth and success," said Kent in a prepared statement. "He built and sustained the No. 1 brand in morning news, and under his watch NBC’s signature news programming set a standard for quality and professionalism."
Zucker will face many challenges at CNN. While CNN is very successfully financially and has a strong global presence, in the United States its ratings have dramatically fallen in the last decade as rivals Fox News and to a lesser degree MSNBC have taken away viewers.
"I am thrilled to join the distinguished team of journalists across the worldwide platforms of CNN," said Zucker in a statement. "I spent the most rewarding years of my career as a journalist, and it’s where I look forward to spending many more."
Although CNN is headquartered in Atlanta, Zucker will be based in New York.
Zucker left NBCUniversal after Comcast Corp. completed its takeover of the entertainment company. Most recently, he has been producing former "Today" anchor Katie Couric's daytime talk show.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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