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Discovery shareholders approve $43 billion acquisition of CNN parent company WarnerMedia

Discovery shareholders voted Friday to approve the media company’s $43 billion merger with WarnerMedia, moving the deal one step closer to completion after the resolution of messy scandals at WarnerMedia subsidiary CNN.

The outcome was all but assured, as two of Discovery’s major investors, John C. Malone and Advance/Newhouse, agreed to vote their shares in favor of the merger. They together represent 43 percent of Discovery’s voting shares.

In May, AT&T announced it would spin-off WarnerMedia, whose assets include HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. studio, and merge it with Discovery.  

Puck media reporter Dylan Byers reported that CNN boss Jeff Zucker and his top lieutenant Allison Gollust were reportedly due to take on senior roles within the new company.

They were both were forced out over their secret romance, which emerged during an investigation into fired host Chris Cuomo’s conduct. 

Discovery shareholders voted Friday to approve the media company’s $43 billion merger with WarnerMedia. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is seen above

It comes weeks after CNN boss Jeff Zucker was forced out over his open-secret romance with colleague. CNN is owned by WarnerMedia and will be part of the merger

It comes weeks after CNN boss Jeff Zucker was forced out over his open-secret romance with colleague. CNN is owned by WarnerMedia and will be part of the merger

The outcome was all but assured, as two of Discovery's major investors, John C. Malone (above) and Advance/Newhouse, agreed to vote their shares in favor of the merger

The outcome was all but assured, as two of Discovery’s major investors, John C. Malone (above) and Advance/Newhouse, agreed to vote their shares in favor of the merger

The proposed combination would create one of the world’s largest media companies with a breadth of well-known film franchises and television series, including Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, hit show Succession and the reality-series 90 Day Fiance and Property Brothers.

Discovery shareholders approved charter amendments, a share issuance proposal and golden parachute payments to executives, in case the transaction fails to close.

As the deal, expected to close sometime this spring, nears completion, CNN announced that its new paid streaming service CNN+ will launch on March 29. 

Customers will be charged $5.99 a month or $59.99 per year to get the service, with a special deal for subscribers who join in the first four weeks. 

Competitor Fox News’ Fox Nation service has been operating since 2018, and recently inked actor Kevin Costner to narrate a documentary series on the Yellowstone national park. 

MSNBC said Thursday that it will offer much of its television lineup on a time-delayed basis on the Peacock Premium streaming service, which is available for $4.99 a month. 

Meanwhile, shocking new text messages between Gollust and former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were reported by Rolling Stone on Friday. 

CNN boss Jeff Zucker and his top lieutenant Allison Gollust were reportedly due to take on senior roles within the new company -- but both were forced out

CNN boss Jeff Zucker and his top lieutenant Allison Gollust were reportedly due to take on senior roles within the new company — but both were forced out 

The messages show Gollust in apparent flirty exchanges with Cuomo, and appearing to set up a conversation between Zucker and Cuomo ahead of a crucial CNN interview with the governor.

Gollust had worked as Cuomo’s communications director before joining CNN in 2013.

In one reported text message exchange, Cuomo suggested they meet up for drinks and that he would serve as her ‘pool boy.’ 

‘You don’t want to see me now that I’m single?’ Cuomo reportedly texted Gollust after breaking up with girlfriend Sandra Lee. 

‘A drink with you would be the best date I’ve had in a while,’ Gollust is said to have replied.  

Risa Heller, a spokesperson for Gollust and Zucker, vehemently denied to Rolling Stone that there was a sexual relationship between Gollust and the former governor.

Text messages show Zucker's lover Gollust in apparent flirty exchanges with Cuomo, who suggested they meet up for drinks and that he would serve as her 'pool boy.'

Text messages show Zucker’s lover Gollust in apparent flirty exchanges with Cuomo, who suggested they meet up for drinks and that he would serve as her ‘pool boy.’

'A drink with you would be the best date I've had in a while,' Gollust is said to have replied to Cuomo's suggestion that they meet

 ‘A drink with you would be the best date I’ve had in a while,’ Gollust is said to have replied to Cuomo’s suggestion that they meet

‘For Rolling Stone to suggest through innuendo and creative syntax — and no evidence — that there was a sexual relationship between the two in 2020 is disgusting, sexist, and patently false. In fact, Allison was never in the same room as the governor during 2020,’ said Heller.

A Cuomo spokesperson also denied any romance, telling the magazine: ‘Allison and the governor were former colleagues and friends, never had a romantic relationship, and it is impossible to have two sources saying otherwise because it is a total fabrication.’ 

In another exchange, Cuomo seems to have requested a direct call with Zucker ahead of a key appearance on CNN. 

It was on March 28, 2020, and then-President Donald Trump had suggested imposing a quarantine on New York as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

Cuomo appeared on CNN that night and said that such a move would ‘drop this economy in a way that wouldn’t recover for months, if not years.’

Prior to the interview, Cuomo texted Gollust: ‘Ask Jeff to call me plz.’ Zucker’s representatives say that he has ‘no record’ of speaking to Cuomo that day.

Regardless, Gollust emailed a programming staffer, copying Zucker, about 30 minutes before Cuomo appeared on air, offering him as a last minute guest.

After the interview, Gollust texted Cuomo: ‘Well done . . . Cuomo-W. Trump-L.’

Chris Cuomo, a former CNN prime-time host, was fired by Zucker in December after documents revealed how he had helped his brother Andrew Cuomo strategize

Chris Cuomo, a former CNN prime-time host, was fired by Zucker in December after documents revealed how he had helped his brother Andrew Cuomo strategize

The texts and emails appear to be among the material gathered during an internal CNN investigation into Chris Cuomo’s journalistic processes. 

When the probe concluded last month, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said that it had ‘found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo.’

Chris Cuomo, a former CNN prime-time host, was fired by Zucker in December after documents revealed how he had helped his brother Andrew Cuomo strategize over how to fight charges of sexual misconduct. 

Zucker was forced to resign last month because he had violated company policy in not revealing that his relationship with Gollust was romantic. 

Gollust resigned days after the completion of the internal probe.  


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