Just one day after signing football analyst John Madden away from Fox, ABC
sources confirmed that the network has its sights on another TV mega-star: David
Letterman's contract is up this summer, and CBS was not able to conclude a
renewal during an exclusive negotiating period earlier this year.
Sources confirmed that Letterman is in serious talks with ABC, which would
move the long-running Nightline with Ted Koppel out of the 11:30 p.m.
time period to make room for him. One source said it was possible that
Nightline could become a series of prime time specials.
Politically Incorrectwith Bill Maher will leave the ABC schedule
by fall regardless of what happens with Letterman.
Nightline'sratings have also trended down in recent years,
particularly among 18- through 49-year olds, the demographic most advertisers
seem to covet. Season-to-date, the program's 18-through-49 demo is down 6
percent to a 1.6.
CBS sources said the contract talks with Letterman have been particularly
tough. He reportedly makes $20 million per year and gets 10 weeks off, but he
wants 'substantially more' salary and several more weeks off, as well.
Letterman's importance to CBS extends to prime time, where his Worldwide
Pants production company supplies one of the network's biggest hits,
Everybody Loves Raymond.