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Can Licht Make the Cuts?

Chris Licht
Licht, who entered CNN as an agent of change, appears to have already dug into the assignment. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Variety/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
November 4, 2022

When Chris Licht became chairman and chief executive of CNN, back in May, his boss David Zaslav asked him to conduct a six-month review of the 4,500-person global news business. During the early months of that review, Licht would repeatedly tell members of his staff that the broad cost-cutting effort that was taking place across Warner Bros. Discovery would not result in layoffs at CNN. The parent company had more than $50 billion in debt, of course, and Zaz had promised to identify at least $3 billion in cost-cutting synergies across his new media empire, but Licht repeatedly assured staff that CNN would be spared: “As it relates to CNN, there are no layoffs per se,” Licht said at one staff-wide event in June. “A lay off is a downsizing, where you are given a target, and that is not happening at CNN.”