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Couric and CBS: ‘Let’s Stay Friends’

Apr 11, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Talks between Katie Couric and her bosses at CBS News over her future as anchor of the “Evening News” have been amicable, with both sides agreeing that while the content of her broadcast is competitive, the program’s lagging ratings can’t be accepted for the long term.
No decision has been made on whether she will depart her post prior to the expiration of her five-year, $75 million contract and the two sides haven’t held discussions in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. Wednesday, press reports reignited speculation that Ms. Couric wouldn’t see out the term of her contract.
The sources close to the matter say:
-There have been “collaborative” but not definitive talks about possible other roles in which Ms. Couric might prove more valuable to CBS News or the CBS family.
-No such talks have been held in recent weeks, because neither side feels pressured to force the issue. Ms. Couric is described by more than one person who knows her as happy with the newscast and her team. CBS News and network management believes she is enjoying the political coverage that dominates the news this winter and is well prepared to see it through to the inauguration of the new president.
-Both sides agree “CBS Evening News” is as good as any of its counterparts and that Ms. Couric’s performance as an anchor is not the issue.
-They also understand that the current ratings are not something that can be accepted for the long term.
CBS and Ms. Couric find themselves deeper than ever in the ratings cellar, despite all the hype and hope that accompanied her September 2006 hire. She came aboard as the first woman to solo in the flagship role previously defined by Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw.
Data from Nielsen Co. for the week of March 31 showed “Evening News” attracting an average 5.9 million viewers, well behind the 8.3 million viewers for “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” and the nearly 8 million drawn to ABC’s “World News With Charles Gibson.” In the key news demographic of 25- to 54-year-old viewers, the 51-year-old Ms. Couric also lagged with a 4.1 rating in the demo, compared to “Nightly’s” 5.6 and “World News’” 5.6.
There is no successor identified for Ms. Couric and it’s entirely possible that she might occupy the “CBS Evening News” anchor desk well past January, the people familiar with the matter say.
The talks about possible options for Ms. Couric—perhaps a talk show or full-time assignment to “60 Minutes” or being released from the unprecedented contract that convinced her to leave NBC’s popular “Today” show after 15 years—were reported by the Washington Post late Wednesday night. That story followed a Wall Street Journal article that updated reports that Ms. Couric might split from CBS before the end of her contract.
In a number of articles Thursday, there was much speculation about the possibility that Ms. Couric might replace Larry King on CNN. While it’s true that one of her best long-time friends, Wendy Walker, is Mr. King’s senior executive producer, one person familiar with Ms. Couric said the CBS anchor considers Mr. King to have been always kind to her and she would not be a party to forcing him from his show, which is CNN’s most popular program.

26 Comments

  1. Katie Couric ousting Larry King from CNN? Unthinkable! Guesting, perhaps.

  2. Katie can make many valuable contributions to CBS News. Staying in the Anchor Chair is NOT one of them.
    The unwillingness and inability of LM and the other CBS brass to admit their mistake and take action should have CBS stock holders up in arms.
    Within CBS News ranks are at least five great choices to sit down, manage and report the Evening News for at least the next decade.
    To go outside and get another “Markee” name is stupid and irresponsible, besides that mistake has already been made disastrously.
    The time to act is NOW. The viability of the CBS News icon becomes less each day.
    Gee, maybe some time will have to be invested to regain respect and an audience. Large dollars to buy attraction to the entity are not the answer.
    The answer is obvious. Holders of CBS paper should demand action today. If they don’t get it, then they should demand changes from the top down at Black Rock.
    Peter Bright

  3. All this weird speculation should, instead be focused on who would replace her? Hopefully someone in the Murrow/Cronkite/Thomas category. Namely, someone with an authorative, rather than ‘perky’ look.
    In other words a mature Male; (and I don’t mean the usual “pretty boys” that seem to pop up all too frequently lately.)
    Someone we could listen to and think about what he is saying, rather than will the knobby knees show?

  4. Katie Couric is, unfortunately, another one of those “polarizing” personalities that pop up from time to time. Viewers tend not to be neutral about her; they either love her or hate her. And that goes back to her replacing Jane Pauley on the Today show. (Her replacement, Meredith Viera, appears to engender more neutral reactions.)
    It would definitely appear that she’s not “feeling the love” and this experiment has gone on long enough. Bob Schieffer got higher ratings as a “temporary” anchor than Katie is now.
    It’s also apparent that TV viewers see her primarily as a “personality anchor” or host, best suited to a morning news and talk show, not a serious news anchor. The ratings trend reflects that clearly. Only Charles Gibson has been successfully able to make the jump from morning host to nightly news anchor in recent years.
    It’s quite simple: If CBS is serious about boosting its evening ratings, then they’ll part company with KC quickly and get a suitable replacement.
    If they’re still star-struck or convinced they can somehow get different results with the same experiment if they only wait long enough like our president is doing in Iraq), they’ll maintain the status quo and continue to see ratings decline.

  5. Re: Red Blanchard’s comments for someone who could replace Katie—-“Murrow/Cronkite/Thomas category”; “authoritative look”; “mature male”; “Someone we could listen to and think about what he is saying”. Someone like, maybe, Aaron Brown. I think he would do just fine!

  6. This move was destined for failure from the beginning. A textbook example of the product not living up to the hype. Katie made her name giggling, frolicking around in Halloween costumes, and playing the brother-sister act with Matt.
    Her overly made-up, freakishly Botoxed appearance, and uncomfortable delivery were inappropriate for the anchor chair, and the morons in CBS management who thought otherwise should be held accountable.

  7. I echo the fact the Katie must go. The fact that the ratings are so slow they should dump her.
    The morons at CBS Corporate just got rid of some very talented people at their O&O’s and they said it was because of tough economic times. Well you could have saved 15 million dollars just getting rid of one lame lousy ratings CBS News Anchor. You can bet that all those corporate suits in NY will be getting their 10 million dollar bonuses at the end of the year. Shareholders should demand answers for all this corporate GREED.

  8. Why is there so much hate for Ms. Couric?
    Reading the prior comments makes me believe those who want her out, don’t like her because she is a women sitting in the “Murrow” chair AND she’s making 15 million dollars. Years ago something similar was said about Dan Rather’s salary in comparison to the third place ratings and he wasn’t asked to leave. Then.
    Yeah she made some big mistakes. Big ones. Her speech pattern and intonations on her reports sounds forced. She doesn’t speak that way when she’s having a conversation or when she’s interviewing someone. But I still say give her and the CBS Evening news more time. Someday the evening news will look very similar to what she’s trying to do now. Maybe she’s just ahead of her time and no one is ready for what she’s offering.
    If she must leave, let her do “60” minutes. Or give her a show similiar to Keith Olberman’s Countdown.

  9. It’s hard to imagine why anyone thought Katie Couric would boost the CBS Evening News when the problems of network news run so much deeper than just the choice of anchor.
    In my city, the show airs at 6:30 pm. Unfortunately, at that hour, millions of potential viewers are still commuting on traffic-choked freeways. But even if they were home, it’s very likely those who care have seen or heard the day’s news on a 24-hour cable channel, talk radio or the Internet.
    And since CBS and the other legacy networks have cut reporting staffs over the years to near cable TV levels and quality, it’s no longer true that CBS offers a substantially more credible or informative newscast.
    In fact, as the Dan Rather forged documents debacle showed, CBS is capable of airing a false story and defending it long after the story was thoroughly discredited. If CBS can botch a high profile story so completely, it makes one wonder if they get can get anything right. It doesn’t help that millions of Ameicans believe that these errors always seem to help liberals and hurt conservatives.
    CBS already employs a number of people who would do a good job fronting their evening newscast. But unless CBS improves the quality, accuracy and fairness of the program, Katie’s successor is doomed to failure.

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  11. Everyone have a need for a particular person to put on a pedestal and glamorize ; I don’t . Those who find themselves well-known for being famous occupy so much space in our lives and can be much too overpayed.

  12. Do you absolutely adore famous person chit chat? Can’t stand it? Don’t you take long lunches from your job when you know when the most up-to-date issue of Vogue will hit the newstands? I would love to discover what number of people today actually find hollywood news enjoyable, and just how many basically just see the fixation from it idiotic.

  13. Precisely why in the hell do we allow for the UN to stay in UN and support it? Kick it out! And, the applause due to this nut helps it be Extra critical that there be no mosque at Ground Zero.

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