CNN cuts back on original series and films

Chris Licht, chair of CNN, told employees Friday (Oct 28) that the network would stop buying documentary films and original TV series as part of its cost-cutting efforts.

In an email to employees, Licht said the network would be moving away from those movies and shows, which include Navalny, RBG and The Burning of Black Wall Street, and original TV series such as Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

Instead, CNN's long-form content will be produced by an internal studio led by Amy Entelis, CNN's executive vice-president for talent and content development.

"This was a very difficult decision to make, and it was based, in large part, on the ever-increasing cost of commissioning third-party premium content," Licht wrote.

Licht told employees earlier this week that CNN would cut its budget before the end of the year, resulting in "noticeable change" for the network. The worsening economy and pressure from CNN parent Warner Bros Discovery has led to more severe cost-cutting than was initially expected from a month-long business review.

Warner Bros Discovery's stock has taken a beating since the company began trading on the Nasdaq in April, part of a broader slump in the media sector.

The cuts will result in some layoffs at CNN, according to a person with knowledge of the decision, but employees required to air shows and movies already planned for 2023 will remain.

CNN has six original series and six films planned for next year, including American Pain, a documentary about opioid kingpins; and See It Loud: The History of Black Television, from LeBron James and Maverick Carter's SpringHill Company.

CNN's films and original series have won critical acclaim over the past decade, with films such as RBG and shows including United Shades of America with comedian W Kamau Bell winning Emmy Awards. CNN is currently airing The Murdochs: Empire of Influence, an original series based on reporting published in The New York Times Magazine. NYTIMES

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