Turner, CNN facing job cuts and changes - CBS46 News

Turner, CNN facing job cuts and changes

Posted: Updated:

An Atlanta media empire could be in jeopardy. There are talks of major changes for Turner Broadcasting and CNN.

Turner executives have hinted at significant job cuts as soon as this week.

CNN president Jeff Zucker told staff to expect changes saying, "We are going to do less and have to do it with less." That has set off a swirl of rumors about the company's future, causing fear for employees and residents of Atlanta.

Clearly what began in downtown Atlanta 34 years ago is no longer what it used to be. Media mogul Ted Turner launched CNN, the first 24-hour cable news network, in 1980 and a lot has changed since then.

"They've been gradually moving things to New York ever since Time Warner bought CNN," Former CNN Senior Producer Liz Mercure said.

Mercure worked at CNN for 25 years and said she saw the changes coming.

"When CNN started, it was a family under Ted, and then as soon as Time Warner bought it, it became very corporate," Mercure said.

Turner Broadcasting, one of our city's biggest corporate players, is now faced with stiff competition and soft ratings, forcing it to make some of the most significant company-wide job cuts in years.

A source tells CBS46 that Turner could cut anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 jobs this week.

"It breaks my heart because there are great people over there and they've been with them a long time," Mercure said.

Turner's new CEO, John Martin, announced in June a new initiative called Turner 2020 saying every part of the business is being scrutinized to reduce spending and maximize growth.

"We'll start 2015 a more streamlined, nimble and efficient company," Martin wrote in a memo to employees last week. Later he wrote, "… our goals are much more ambitious than a paint job."

"CNN made it work, made Atlanta strong," Former VP of CNN Op's John Baker said.

Turner has about 6,500 employees, roughly half of its total workforce, in downtown and midtown Atlanta.

Now there's talk that by January, all Turner brands could be renamed and moved out of Atlanta, possibly eliminating the Turner legacy completely.

"It's right up there with Coke and Delta. I think it would be a big loss," Mercure said.

"Atlanta will recover because CNN helped it build itself into what it is today, and so I think Atlanta will survive," Baker said.

In addition, a source tells CBS46 that all of CNN's operations could eventually be moved to Los Angeles or New York City.

CBS46 spoke with some current Turner employees who did not want to be identified that said they're all on pins and needles and they expect to hear about job cuts sometime this week.

A spokeswoman for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he would not comment on the possible changes since he has received no official word from Time Warner.

"They're the entity that helped us get the Olympics, helped this city become an international city and so we need them," said Councilman C.T. Martin.

Martin said he was hoping to get more official information in the days ahead. 

"They're such a valuable part of our community," the councilman added.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.