CNN D.C. chief leaving for C-SPAN CEO role

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C-SPAN has hired CNN’s Washington Bureau chief to become its next CEO.

Sam Feist will take over the public affairs network, which is run as a non-profit funded by small charges paid on a per-subscriber basis by pay TV companies, in the summer of 2024. He will remain at CNN through June 2024 to help transition. Feist’s replacement at CNN has not been named.

He replaces co-CEOs Rob Kennedy (no, not the one running for president) and Susan Swain, who previously announced retirement plans after being in the shared role since 2012.

They were on the second CEOs of the outlet, with Brian Lamb being the first. 

Kennedy will retire May 17, 2024, leaving Swain in charge into Feist is on board.

“Our democracy needs C-SPAN now more than ever. I look forward to working with C-SPAN’s extraordinary and dedicated team to expand the network’s reach and meet new audiences where they are,” Feist stated in an announcement.

While C-SPAN is often derided as a stuffy channel carrying live feeds from U.S. government proceedings, it has also branched out to other programming significantly over the years.

Since it relies on cable and satellite companies paying a small per-subscriber fee (reportedly 6 cents in 2021), to fund its operations, the outlet is likely facing some operational challenges moving forward (earlier in May 2024, The Hill questioned why YouTube TV, one of the fastest growing vMVPDs, does not contribute to C-SPAN’s budget or carry its channels) as cable and satellite subscriptions are dropped by consumers.

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There’s never been a requirement for pay TV providers to carry C-SPAN and, by extension, help fund its budget, though the relatively low cost and goodwill for providing a public service may be a big incentive (during their heydey, cable and DBS services typically had high profit margins and also tacked on numerous additional fees to bills that could have been used to offset, at least indirectly, some of the cost of providing C-SPAN).

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