David C. Leavy Named COO Of CNN Worldwide

David C. Leavy, a top executive at Warner Bros. Discovery and longtime deputy to CEO David Zaslav, has been named COO of CNN Worldwide.

Leavy will oversee commercial, operational and promotional activities across the network. The move is effective on June 20.

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Leavy has been with Discovery and its successor Warner Bros. Discovery for 23 years. He currently is chief corporate affairs officer for the parent company of CNN, and will maintain public policy and social responsibility oversight even as he moves to the news network.

CNN has seen its ratings languish in the year since Discovery took control of WarnerMedia, the network’s former corporate parent. In May, its primetime audience dropped 25% from the same month a year earlier, to an average of 494,000 viewers. The network also saw a decline in the total day audience.

CNN Worldwide CEO Chris Licht’s strategy has been to focus more on the network’s newsgathering, rather than opinion personalities, and he’s been in the midst of retooling the nighttime lineup. Kaitlan Collins is moving from CNN This Morning to the key 9 p.m. time slot, among other changes. CNN also unveiled new on air typeface, a look that was unveiled at Warner Bros. Discovery’s upfront presentation.

Licht announced Leavy’s appointment during the network’s morning editorial call on Thursday. The move looks to free Licht up to focus on programming and content decisions, and it also puts a close lieutenant of Zaslav into a hands on role at the network.

Licht said in a statement that Leavy’s “is a strategic, versatile and dynamic executive who will work with myself and the senior leadership team to help transform our business as we get the full programming slate on the air, build out our digital future and grow the CNN brand around the world.”

“Everyone who works with David has seen how his energy, work ethic and collaborative style positively impacts an organization, and I can’t wait for him to join me and the CNN team,” he added.

Before the Warner Media merger, Leavy served as chief corporate affairs officer for Discovery Inc. CNN noted the key roles he played in the launch of Discovery+, the agreement to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive in 2018 and the company’s listing on NASDAQ in 2008, as well as Discovery and Europsport’s agreement for the rights to the Olympic Games across Europe. Earlier, Leavy served as chief spokesman and senior director of public affairs for the National Security Council and as deputy press secretary for foreign affairs in the Clinton White House.

More to come.

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