CBS Television Distribution will not be doing a syndicated talk show with outgoing CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, say sources close to the situation.
The company has pulled its offer off the table and does not intend to restart discussions. TV Guide first reported that CTD, the distribution arm of CBS, had removed its offer on Wednesday.
That means ABC is now the only bidder for Couric's services. However, there remains a match in CBS' contract with Couric that gives the company the right to review any offer she may get from any other bidder until June 5, the day after her contract expires.
That match means that CBS still has the opportunity to negotiate with Couric for another month.
ABC News Chief Ben Sherwood is driving the deal with Couric, say several sources, and offering her a multi-platform presence that would include contributing to the network's primetime magazines and to reporting on the 2012 presidential election. It also would include launching a daytime talk show in fall 2012. How the network and its associated distribution division would accommodate that talk show is unclear, but due to Oprah Winfrey's pending departure from daytime and the cancellation of two of its soaps, the ABC-owned stations and its affiliate body are likely to have some holes to fill a year and a half from now.
Couric and her team want to own the show, so that means it would have to be syndicated.
Still, ABC isn't proclaiming victory yet and Couric remains undecided.
"People here believe that this remains a real long shot," says one ABC insider. "Everyone thinks that she is a big talent and that there's huge potential there. But as long as CBS has matching rights, this is not over until it's actually over."
"Katie has not made any decision about her future," says Matthew Hiltzik, Couric's spokesman.