CNN president Jeff Zucker said the news organization’s still-sizable operations in Atlanta shouldn’t see any change as a result of AT&T’s proposed mega deal to buy Time Warner, parent of CNN and and the rest of Turner.
“I don’t anticipate it will have any impact on the Atlanta operations at all,” Zucker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.
The CNN chief, who is based in New York, was in Atlanta for meetings with local employees, including two town hall meetings with staff.
“With regard to CNN, the most important thing [AT&T chief executive] Randall Stephenson has said is that he is committed to the journalistic independence of CNN just as Time Warner has been. Frankly, there is nothing else that he could say that would be more important,” Zucker said.
Zucker declined to discuss whether the deal would affect how widely CNN is distributed online and on TV.
The CNN chief said AT&T has said “the future of mobile is video, and the future of video is mobile, and that is completely consistent with our view of the world … It’s incredibly exciting.”
Dallas-based AT&T and New York-based Time Warner announced the proposed $85.4 billion deal last Saturday.
On Monday, Stephenson indicated in television interviews that he did not see sweeping changes at Time Warner under AT&T ownership.
“I don’t envision us changing a lot,” he told one interviewer. “This is a well-run company.”
Another person familiar with the Dallas-based telecom giant’s plans said this week: “AT&T plans to run Time Warner the same way it’s run today.”
The deal faces a tough regulatory review and political challenges in Washington. Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns have expressed concerns about the tie-up.
Investors appear to have doubts the deal will be approved. Time Warner stock gained initially but plateaued around $88 this week, well short of the $107.50 value of the AT&T offer. Typically, stocks of companies being acquired move close to the deal price.