Former NBCU CEO to replace Jim Walton

CNN has tapped Jeff Zucker as the new lead executive at the beleaguered cable news network, according to published reports that surfaced Tuesday afternoon.

The hire was not unexpected as Zucker had long led the list that had been circulating of potential replacements for Jim Walton, the longtime CNN chief who signaled in July that he would be stepping down at year-end.

A rep for CNN declined to comment.

While Zucker currently serves as executive producer of the Katie Couric talk show “Katie,” he is best known for holding a number of positions within NBCUniversal, culminating with the CEO job at the conglom. But he left in 2010 amid the acquisition of NBCU by Comcast, which replaced him with Steve Burke.

While Zucker did not win many fans within Hollywood after an unpopular stint running NBC Entertainment, where he presided over a decline that saw the network fail to recapture the ratings magic delivered by longtime hits including “Friends” and “ER,” he is credited for spearheading the growth of “Today” in an earlier stint as its executive producer.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more