Anchors Take Pay Cuts As Viewers Abandon Cable News

A combination of factors — from the rise of social media and streaming platforms to the decline in viewership following the Trump administration — have contributed to an overall malaise among cable news networks and mainstream media entities as a whole.

CNN has been especially hard hit by the downward trend, recently falling behind not only Fox News and MSNBC, but many other cable channels including Hallmark and The History Channel in total weekly viewership ratings.

Network boss Mark Thompson reportedly issued a direct warning about the current trajectory, insisting that it was “time for a revolution” if the network hoped to survive.

In pursuit of increasingly elusive profits, CNN and other major networks have begun cutting the bloated salaries of their most high-profile personalities.

Many of the most recognizable faces of cable news, including Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow — of CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, respectively — take home anywhere from $20 million to $30 million per year.

Those numbers are starting to subside, however, with advertising revenue drying up and cable news subscriptions continuing to dwindle.

As those high-paid figures get older, one source cited by The Ankler said that the next generation of news anchors should not expect multimillion-dollar contracts.

“The trend is to get rid of people with big salaries and replace them with people they can pay considerably less,” the individual confirmed. “You can see it on air and off air.”

Thompson, who worked at the BBC prior to taking over at the helm of CNN, was reportedly surprised by the staggering pay scale that U.S. news personalities command and quickly implemented a strategy to prioritize digital media and whittle down the salaries of on-air personalities.

“The business model is evolving,” said a source quoted in a Mediaite article. “They’re looking at all costs including talent.”

Plans for corporate mergers and widespread layoffs have become a troubling sign of the times for television news operations, but some insiders are hopeful that trimming the budget by cutting the biggest salaries could preserve the medium, at least for a while.

Mediaite spoke to one source who explained: “They’re starting to look at each other. It’s like ‘Survivor.’ A relatively small pay cut for the highest-paid talent could save dozens of jobs — and make the product better.”