CNN President Jeff Zucker has signed a deal that will keep him at the cable news network through 2020, according to people familiar with the pact.
Word of the contract, first reported by Vanity Fair, comes the day after a federal judge cleared the way for AT&T Inc.’s $85-billion acquisition of CNN parent Time Warner Inc. The Justice Department’s effort to block the deal was turned down in a ruling issued Tuesday that said the merger can be completed with no conditions.
A CNN representative had no comment, but a person at the network not authorized to comment confirmed the deal. Vanity Fair said Zucker signed the multiyear pact several months ago.
Zucker, 53, has led CNN since 2013. His status at CNN within the merged companies has been the subject of speculation as President Trump has been a harsh critic of the network’s coverage of his campaign and administration.
Trump’s enmity for CNN, which he often refers to as “fake news,” was seen as a possible impediment to the AT&T deal going through. It led to rumors that AT&T would spin off the network in order to ensure passage of the merger.
Trump has fumed over CNN’s coverage, as he feels he is responsible for Zucker’s success at NBC. Trump’s reality program “The Apprentice” was the network’s biggest hit when Zucker was president of NBC.
CNN has delivered solid ratings and revenue growth under Zucker’s watch, exceeding $1 billion in profits in each of the last two years. Trump has largely been responsible for the boost, as viewing for all of the cable news networks has grown since the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star formally entered politics as a presidential candidate in 2015.
The new pact secures Zucker’s services through the 2020 presidential election.
Zucker started his career as a researcher for NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games in 1988. At age 24, he rose to executive producer of its morning show “Today” and led it back to first place in the ratings.
Zucker climbed the corporate ranks, becoming chief executive of NBCUniversal in 2005. He departed in 2010 after Comcast purchased the company.