CBS News says there are no plans to change the “CBS Evening News” and Katie Couric says she is “working hard and having fun.” But both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are standing behind their stories that Couric is likely to leave the anchor chair after the current election cycle.
The WSJ was first to post the story on its website, quoting sources as saying that Couric would likely leave CBS well before her contract, worth around 15 million per year, expires in 2011. The story noted that during her tenure ratings for the newscast have seldom beaten the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who took over after Dan Rather stepped down. The story suggested that Couric might be looking to jump to CNN as a successor to Larry King, who is 74.
The Washington Post story said both Couric and CBS management are frustrated with the entrenched third-place ratings for the “CBS Evening News.” It said Couric might be offered a chance to stay with CBS with either a syndicated talk show or a full-time assignment with “60 Minutes.” Otherwise, she could be released from her contract to go elsewhere.
In any case, no one expects any decision until this summer at the earliest.
RBR/TVBR observation: It is no secret that Katie Couric is not getting to do the newscast she signed on for, so she is not happy trying to be Walter Cronkite in a skirt. The newscast is stuck in third place, with the only good news being that the audience is, on average, younger and more female than those of her two male competitors. But if Katie goes, what do Les Moonves and Sean McManus do next? Do you come up with another approach to try to attract younger viewers, or do you throw in the towel and accept that the evening news is going to attract an increasingly geriatric audience – then just fight to draw more geezers than the other guys? That’s hardly a long-term recipe for success.