CNN will shift the bulk of its operations behind its Spanish-language efforts to Mexico City, scaling back production of content for linear television in favor of work aimed at reaching a younger audience that favors mobile video.
The move is likely to mean the elimination of jobs in Miami and Atlanta, but will also result in a ramp-up of jobs in Mexico and Los Angeles, where CNN will aim to add more than staffers, according to a person familiar with the plans, which were disclosed to employees Thursday afternoon. CNN CEO Chris Licht had nodded to the future of the Spanish-language network in November at a town-hall meeting.
At issue is how to maintain outreach to Spanish-speaking viewers at a time when the economics of big media companies are under intense scrutiny. CNN and its corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery, have already cut operations, but the question of how to keep CNN en Espanol under such conditions has been under debate for some time. In the past, discussions had been underway to shut down the cable network, which has only limited distribution of around nine million in the United States.
“There have been a lot of questions about its location, and frankly, CNNE as a brand. I did not agree with CNN’s previous plans to shut down CNNE’s linear network, so I’ve changed that strategy to ensure that CNNE can thrive in the future,” Licht said in November. “I believe in CNNE, and more broadly, our presence in LatAm. And I know we can be an even bigger player in the region.”
CNN en Espanol is seen across the globe, and is distributed in Argentina, Spain and Colombia, among other nations. Executives believe focusing more intently on content for digital viewers will help keep the outlet relevant to a demographic that skews younger than the traditional TV audience. CNN has invested in new studio operations in Mexico City, just as it has recently in Abu Dhabi. Senior executives for CNN en Espanol are likely to remain based in New York.
Still, programming earmarked expressly for linear distribution will be scaled back, though correspondents will remain on the ground in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to the person familiar with the matter, and coverage of breaking news for audiences will remain intact.
Staffers were told Thursday in a memo from Cynthia Darr Hudson, a senior vice president who oversees Hispanic programming strategy in the U.S., that CNN en Espanol “will be streamlining our linear news output, shifting production to our Mexico City bureau and introducing new cross-platform programming. We will also be investing in CNNE’s digital platform, safeguarding CNNE’s newsgathering strength in the U.S. and utilizing our network-wide investments in content management to create a greatly enhanced digital user experience. This afternoon I informed the CNN en Español team about these changes, which will impact some of our colleagues.”
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