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Ex-NBC chief to run CNN Worldwide

CNN made it official Thursday: It will install Jeff Zucker, former chief executive of NBC, as president of CNN Worldwide.

The announcement culminated a monthslong search to find a replacement for Jim Walton, who led CNN to record profits even as ratings for its US network, CNN/US, hit record lows. The network said in July that Walton would step down at the end of the year.

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Zucker will be expected to revive the US network to competitive standing against its rivals, Fox News and MSNBC, even as it maintains its position as a nonpartisan news network.

CNN said Zucker starts his new assignment in January.

He will arrive at CNN carrying the baggage of the collapse of NBC’s broadcast network, which descended from dominance in prime time to last-place status under Zucker, even as the company’s cable networks, including MSNBC, thrived under him.

But Zucker also brings a reputation for leadership in news, which he forged in two tenures leading NBC’s ‘‘Today’’ show to dominance.

Walter Isaacson, who ran CNN from 2001 to 2003, preceding Walton, said Zucker is a smart choice because ‘‘CNN has great journalists, but what it has needed is an imaginative programmer who knows how to build good shows.’’

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