New CNN Boss To Cut Salaries As Viewers Drop

As viewership numbers continue to fall in the era of the Internet and independent media, CNN’s new CEO Mark Thompson — who took the reins of the Atlanta-based cable news outlet in August — is planning to make massive cuts to the organization’s budget and star salaries to save the company’s finances while working out how to bring CNN’s dull ratings back to life.

In order to fund the transformation of CNN to follow a digital-first strategy, Thompson plans to cut anchor salaries and hopes that he can reform the struggling television news outlet into a U.S. version of the BBC, former CNN executives have told The Wrap.

“The trend is to get rid of people with big salaries and replace them with people they can pay considerably less. You can see it on air and off air,” a source familiar with the salary negotiations told The Ankler.

Top earners on CNN include prime-time anchor Anderson Cooper. Estimates place his salary at around $20 million a year. Then there is Wolf Blitzer, who makes about $15 million at CNN. Meanwhile, Jake Tapper earns $8.5 million and Chris Wallace makes around $8 million.

“The first thing they need to do is dramatically reduce costs,” Rich Greenfield, a media and tech analyst at LightShed Partners, told The Wrap. “If you work at CNN your compensation is going to go down dramatically over the next [ … ] five years, there’s just no other way around it.”

Greenfield says the anchors at CNN would never be able to earn so much at another network and that the era of star news anchors with monumental salaries is over, “It’s not like CNN will lose their talent, there’s nowhere to go that would pay that much.”

An insider at CNN said the network missed the opportunity to launch a paid subscription service with CNN+, “They spent a few hundred million dollars developing it and then gave up immediately and fired 300 people. The point was to get a placeholder in the digital space, and a year in, the streaming service would look very different. They missed that chance.”