Sir Mark Thompson has spoken of his dedication to building a “successful future for CNN” after being appointed the newest leader of the US media giant.
He was knighted for services to media in the King’s Birthday Honours in June 2023.
On Wednesday, CNN’s parent company Warner Bros Discovery announced that Sir Mark will be the new chair and chief executive of CNN Worldwide, replacing Chris Licht who stepped down effective immediately in June after 13 months.
Mr Licht left after his tenure saw CNN fall behind Fox News and MSNBC in popularity, as he encouraged the media giant to find a middle ground during a politically polarised time where opinionated news seemed to connect more with viewers.
Sir Mark will take up the position from October 9 in an attempt to help CNN compete during what Warner Bros Discovery chief executive David Zaslav recently called a “time of huge disruption and transformation”.
Sir Mark said: “I couldn’t be more excited about the chance to join CNN after years of watching it and competing against it with a mixture of admiration and envy.
“The world needs accurate, trustworthy news now more than ever and we’ve never had more ways of meeting that need at home and abroad.
“Where others see disruption, I see opportunity.
“I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get down to work with my new colleagues to build a successful future for CNN.”
Warner Bros Discovery said Sir Mark would act as editor-in-chief of CNN, responsible for all content across its “global portfolio of networks, channels and programming”, as well as the company’s 4,000 employees worldwide.
Mr Zaslav said: “There isn’t a more experienced, respected or capable executive in the news business today than Mark, and we are thrilled to have him join our team and lead CNN Worldwide into the future.
“Mark is a true innovator who has transformed for the digital age two of the world’s most respected news organisations.
“His strategic vision, track record in transformational leadership and sheer passion for news make him a formidable force for CNN and journalism at this pivotal time.”
As the BBC director-general, Sir Mark led the development of the BBC iPlayer, expanded web and smartphone services, and presided over one of the world’s biggest newsrooms during the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Meanwhile, at the New York Times, he helped lead the transition to a digital-first service with a large subscriber base.