Ted Koppel has extended his contract to remain anchor of Nightline through 2003 and waived the right to exit at
the end of 2002.
Thus while the long-term future of the show is still in question, it
will remain in place at ABC in its 11:30 p.m. time slot for the next 21 months.
Last month, the show's future was uncertain as ABC made an aggressive but
ultimately unsuccessful effort to lure David Letterman and his Late Show with David Letterman
In the process, an unnamed ABC executive was quoted in The New
York Times as saying that Koppel and Nightline had become 'irrelevant,' offending Koppel and
bringing sighs of disbelief from an industry that couldn't believe an
executive could be so incredibly stupid.
Letterman re-signed with CBS, leaving ABC in the embarrassing position of
having to mend fences with the 'irrelevant' Koppel.
Through it all, Koppel said all that he really wanted was a sign of renewed commitment from the
network and The Walt Disney Co., and he appeared to have gotten it.
Said Disney president Robert Iger: 'In light of recent events, we want to
renew and reaffirm our support for Nightline, one of the network's
signature programs. We look forward to working with ABC News to make a strong
program even stronger in the coming years.'
Replied Koppel: 'It is especially gratifying for me and everyone at
Nightline to have questions about the future of the broadcast so warmly
and enthusiastically resolved at the highest levels of the corporation. For our
part, my colleagues and I renew our commitment to making Nightline the
best news program it can possibly be.'
It was unclear whether that meant he'd go back
to five-day-per-week anchoring chores. His current contract pays him $8 million per year and commits him
to three days per week in the seat plus six five-part series requiring fairly intense field
reporting on his part.
In 2001, with all that was going on in the world, Koppel
averaged four nights per week in the anchor seat, his spokeswoman said.