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CNN boss Chris Licht guts HLN amid cost-cutting bloodbath

New York Post logo: MainLogo New York Post 12/1/2022 Alexandra Steigrad

CNN boss Chris Licht has gutted sister network HLN, terminating all live programming as part of ongoing layoffs and budget cuts, sources told The Post.

Licht slashed HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” as well as “Weekend Express,” a source close to the situation said. Meade and HLN’s live news programming staffers will be let go, the source added.

Also getting their pink slips Thursday were prominent CNN correspondents Alison Kosik, Martin Savidge, Alex Field, Mary Ann Fox and Chris Cillizza, according to Variety.

Licht also has targeted staffers working on longform storytelling, as well as paid contributors, sources told The Post.

The number of overall cuts have not been announced.

Licht is expected to release a company-wide memo on the layoffs late Thursday, a source said, noting that the majority of firings will be completed by Friday.

A CNN rep did not comment.

© Provided by New York Post CNN boss Licht is expected to announce a new daytime lineup in the coming days, as part of the network’s restructuring. Variety via Getty Images

Licht is also expected to unveil details of a new daytime lineup for CNN in the coming days, as sources wondered about the futures of high-salaried anchors like Briana Keiler, John Berman, Chris Wallace, Kasie Hunt and Audie Cornish.

A source with knowledge said those anchors are not on the chopping block, however, but could find homes in open programming slots.

HLN, home to “Forensic Files” and other true-crime series, will now air CNN’s revamped morning show, co-hosted by Don Lemon, in place of Meade’s show, an insider told The Post. 

© Provided by New York Post Robin Meade, HLN’s host of “Morning Express,” was let go on Thursday. HLN

The network, formally known as Headline News, will eventually combine forces with Investigation Discovery to program shows for the channel, the source added.

As for CNN, one media insider said that Licht still faces enormous challenges even after the cuts. Not only is he tasked with lifting the ratings of the third-place network, but he has to remake the daytime and primetime lineup and fill CNN’s important 9 pm slot still open after the firing of disgraced anchor Chris Cuomo in late 2021.

Licht, who grabbed the reins in May after Jeff Zucker was ousted for not disclosing an affair with a co-worker, has also tried to disrupt CNN’s culture of opinion-focused shows to focus more on middle-of-the-road reporting.

© Provided by New York Post Sources said Licht’s cost cutting will largely be over by the end of the week. Getty Images

“People should walk in Chris Licht’s shoes,” said one media insider, who noted that Zucker “got off easy.”

“If Zucker was still around, he would have left town by now,” the source added.

Licht’s search to slash costs comes as corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery promised Wall Street it would cut $3 billion in costs, after acquiring the assets of the company formerly known as WarnerMedia from AT&T.

Warner Bros. Discovery, which also owns HBO and Food Network, recently said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would have to spend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion to scrap programming already commissioned and pay out severance packages.

The media conglomerate also said it expected to take write-downs of potentially more than $4 billion in pre-tax charges through 2022.

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