Five months into his stint as CEO of Turner Broadcasting System, John Martin is focusing on maximizing performance and trimming fat. In a company memo sent out today (read it below), Martin outlines a global initiative called Turner 2020. It will feature a systematic assessment of every part of the company, focusing on “reducing spending and maximizing growth and profitability,” while prioritizing “programming, monetization and innovation investment,” Martin wrote. “We’re increasing investments in programming and content to keep our audiences engaged and bring new viewers to our brands. We’ll also spend on marketing, branding and promotion to break through the clutter.” Martin’s boss, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, told investors last week that he has budgeted $4B for original programming at Turner, with a goal to refresh the lineups more regularly. However, the “shifting (of) resources” … “may mean staff changes,” Martin said. “In fact, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t.”
Turner already has a major staffing change in the works, with Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin recently exiting the company. Outgoing Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly has been rumored as a potential replacement. Martin’s memo, in which he acknowledged that “we have challenges at some of our networks; in particular, some of our largest, most profitable and highest-profile networks have experienced ratings headwinds,” came out on the day the Friday ratings for Turner’s CNN network came out, marking the net’s lowest rating at 10 PM in 14 years. A month ago, Bewkes singled out TNT and TruTV as networks whose ratings performance was not satisfying. Back then and last week, he was optimistic about TNT’s new focus on edgier, serialized dramas and broader shows in the hope that they will win over younger viewers. He also added that he’s optimistic about recent and upcoming changes in CNN’s schedule.