In Depth

CNN Worldwide Names BET's Janet Rolle as New CMO--Rolle Succeeds Scot Safon, Who Now Runs News Network Sibling HLN

By Andrew Hampp
Advertising Age

CNN Worldwide has tapped BET executive Janet Rolle as its new exec VP-chief marketing officer, filling the vacancy created last fall when Exec VP-CMO Scot Safon was assigned to run CNN sibling HLN.

Ms. Rolle has been exec VP-CMO of BET Networks since 2007. BET enjoyed its best ratings year ever in 2010. Ms. Rolle will join CNN later this month.

At BET, Kendrick Reid, senior VP-executive creative director for brand strategy, will oversee Ms. Rolle's duties while a formal executive search is conducted for her replacement.

CNN took the time necessary to find the right person for a key leadership role, CNN President Jim Walton said in a staff memo. "Janet's years of experience, her intelligence and her enthusiasm to be part of CNN convince me that she will make important contributions here as a thought-leader, innovator and steward of the CNN brand," he said.

CNN is struggling to regain ratings momentum following years of challenged prime-time ratings that ultimately led to the departure of CNN U.S. chief Jon Klein last September. New prime-time programs such as "Parker vs. Spitzer," recently rebranded as "In the Arena" after co-host Kathleen Parker left, and "Piers Morgan Tonight" have posted modest gains in their respective time slots, but CNN often ranks third to competitors Fox News and MSNBC in key dayparts and demos, and occasionally even trails sibling network HLN.

BET, meanwhile, recently celebrated its highest-rated original series debut ever with the premiere of "The Game," a former CW sitcom that relaunched on BET in January with 7.7 million viewers. Subsequent episodes have averaged 3.7 million to 4 million total viewers, thanks to a high volume of Twitter and Facebook activity.