CNN Exec Celebrates Oscar Win Despite Gutting Film Division

Despite the fact that it got rid of its film division, CNN was able to celebrate a win at the Oscars. One of CNN's executives celebrated the fact that the network's documentary feature, Navalny, won the award for Best Documentary. The film chronicles the life of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny including his poisoning and political activism, per the Associated Press

As Oliver Darcy, CNN's senior media reporter, shared on Twitter, CNN chief Chris Licht sent a memo to staffers about Navalny's win. His message acknowledged that this is the first Academy Award for the news program in its 43-year history. Licht wrote that it was an "absolutely thrilling moment" to see the documentary win at the Oscars. He added, "To the CNN Films team — you did it. There is no greater honor."

Licht then thanked everyone who was involved in making the film happen. The CNN chief continued, "It's not lost on me that the subject of this film, Alexei Navalny, continues to languish in a penal colony at this very moment. The importance of this film could not be greater or more timely and I want to thank our partners at Warner Bros.  and HBO Max for amplifying it." Licht ended his memo by writing, "What a moment for CNN."

While Licht noted that this is a "moment for CNN," fans couldn't help but point out that this major win comes on the heels of the company getting rid of the very film division that he lauded. In October 2022, Licht announced that CNN would be cutting back on commissioning documentary films and television shows, per IndieWire. According to him, the decision was made due to budgetary reasons. He wrote in an email to staff, "This was a very difficult decision to make, and it was based, in large part, on the ever-increasing cost of commissioning third-party premium content. However, I want to be clear that long-form content remains an important pillar of our programming." Following this decision, CNN will continue to produce long-form content almost entirely in-house. It was reported that Amy Entelis, CNN's executive vice president for talent and content development, will possibly create a dedicated studio for the company's long-form content.