ABC is cutting one-dozen Nightline jobs in Washington, D.C., and moving the posts to New York, which will leave only a handful of producers -- it wasn’t clear how many -- as well as correspondent John Donvan and co-anchor Terry Moran to represent the show in Washington.
Moran already spends much of his time anchoring from the Big Apple.
Those remaining Nightline producers will be focused on editorial, a network source said, so the move essentially returns the physical production of Nightline to its New York roots, where it was initially produced before Ted Koppel took over and put his D.C. stamp on the show.
Nightline executive producer James Goldston was said to be in Washington Friday to break the news at a meeting with staffers at the ABC News D.C. bureau.
A network source said one of the reasons for moving the jobs was ABC's switch to HD production. "In September, ABC will be going with HD facilities in New York," the source said. There are no plans to do HD studio production out of Washington, another network source said, with the exception of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, which is now produced off-site at an HD studio at The Newseum.
The source, who was familiar with the move, said the jobs being moved included senior producers, producers, segment producers and production associates. The people currently holding down those jobs in D.C. will be given the opportunity to reapply for them in New York, he added, although there was no guarantee that they would get them.
Another reason is that ABC has been moving Nightline's production to New York ever since the departure of anchor Ted Koppel and top producer Tom Bettag in 2005 and the arrival of the New York-based Goldston the same year.
The ABC D.C. bureau has been through various staffing changes and staffing cutbacks as the result of an overall network restructuring that includes a move of graphics.
The move of the show's center of gravity to New York appears to have paid off in the ratings. ABC pointed out that it has continued to close the ratings gap with CBS' Late Show with David Letterman. In the C3 rating that includes time-shifted viewing, ABC said, the show actually beat Letterman for the 2008 season in the key adult 25-54 news demo.
ABC News had no official statement on the matter.