AT&T puts CNN Center in Atlanta up for sale

(Photo by Josh Hallett/Flickr Creative Commons)

AT&T’s WarnerMedia division has placed a giant “For Sale” sign on CNN Center in Atlanta, the iconic home of the cable news giant since it launched in the early 1980s.

Over the years, the broadcast hub has expanded to include office and retail space for other companies, something that real estate brokers hired by AT&T in recent weeks are hoping to capitalize on in a big way.

“Downtown Atlanta has seen great investment and is quickly becoming an entertainment destination,” an AT&T executive wrote in a memo to staff that was obtained by the Associated Press. “The CNN Center is of great value to a third party that specializes in such developments.”

AT&T’s WarnerMedia division had been planning to sell the office and retail complex for some time, but those plans were put on hold after AT&T placed a bid for the company previously known as Time Warner in 2016.

After an extensive process that drew public and regulatory scrutiny, AT&T closed on its acquisition of Time Warner in June 2018. The deal was valued at $85 billion.

The sale of the broadcast hub is expected to have little impact on CNN’s overall operations: Some of its prime-time news programming is already produced in other parts of the country, including WarnerMedia’s New York City studios.

Employees displaced by the sale — mostly workers who oversee CNN’s daytime and international programming — will be relocated to another Atlanta office in a move that is expected to take about five years. CNN has already been splitting its staff between the two offices, and an AT&T executive said having all employees working out of one central Atlanta hub will bring a “long-term benefit of being in one location” that should improve collaboration among different teams.