Travelers in airports will no longer see CNN on TV screens as they wait for their flights starting in March, when the network plans to discontinue its CNN Airport Network, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Network president Jeff Zucker made the announcement on Tuesday in a memo to staff, saying there had been a “steep decline” in need for the network since air travel is down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Post reported.
“The steep decline in airport traffic because of COVID-19, coupled with all the new ways that people are consuming content on their personal devices, has lessened the need for the CNN Airport Network,” Zucker wrote. “Having to say goodbye to such a beloved brand is not easy … I am sure most of us have a story to tell about which airport we were at when we first learned of a major news event.”
CNN launched its Airport Network nearly 30 years ago, in January 1992. As the Post reported, it “is aired in 58 airports across the US and it includes 24/7 news programming from CNN and HLN, as well as entertainment programming from sister channels such as Cartoon Network, TBS and HBO.”
The Airport Network will stop airing on March 31.
Deadline reported that it is currently unclear how many employees might be affected by ending the Airport Network or whether those employees will migrate to CNN proper or be dismissed.
In November 2020, Vanity Fair reported that Zucker was eyeing an exit from the network, which was heavily criticized throughout the Trump administration for its anti-Trump bias.
“The timetable still hasn’t been confirmed, but there’s talk in the upper ranks of WarnerMedia that Zucker is expected to leave CNN in the first quarter of 2021, according to someone familiar with the matter. It wouldn’t happen before the inauguration, sources said, and one person close to Zucker cautioned that nothing’s a done deal and ‘a final decision has not been made.’ Zucker has more than a year left on his current contract, I can confirm. He last re-signed late in the spring of 2018, as I reported at the time, in a deal that locked him in through the election,” Vanity Fair reported.
Zucker had previously admitted to the outlet that the network’s ratings would collapse without President Donald Trump in the White House.
“People say all the time, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about Trump. I’ve had too much Trump,’” Zucker told the outlet. “And yet at the end of the day, all they want to do is talk about Trump. We’ve seen that, anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away. So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.”
Zucker famously greenlit “The Apprentice,” which starred Trump, back in 2004 when the current CNN president worked at NBC.
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