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CNN Chief Jim Walton calls it quits

CNN chief Jim Walton said Friday he is quitting, saying the company needs new leadership at a time its flagship U.S. network is suffering through some of its poorest ratings ever.

Walton built the company into a profitable international news organization in his 10 years as president of CNN Worldwide, and said it is on track for record profits this year. But the U.S. network is the most visible part of the business and is now entrenched in third place behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC in prime time.

He announced the decision in an email to staff members on Friday. He said he’ll continue working until the end of the year during the company’s search for a successor.

Walton said he’s been talking to his boss, Turner Broadcasting Chairman Phil Kent, about leaving since the first few months of the year. CNN is owned by Time Warner.

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