As expected, Katie Couric will leave her post as anchor of the CBS Evening News after five years, Couric confirmed Tuesday to People magazine.
"I have decided
to step down from the CBS Evening News," Couric told People. "I'm really proud of the talented team on the CBS Evening
News and the award-winning work we've been able to do in the past five
years in addition to the reporting I've done for 60 Minutes and CBS
Sunday Morning. In making the decision to move on, I know the Evening
News will be in great hands, but I am excited about the future."
CBS News is expected to announce Couric's successor next week, after
she anchors the network's royal wedding coverage in London on Friday. 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is
likely to be named to replace her.
"There's a lot to be proud of during Katie Couric's time at the CBS Evening News," said a CBS News spokesperson Tuesday. "CBS News, like Katie herself, is looking forward to the next chapter."
Couric's contract with CBS expires June 4; naming her replacement in the first week of May would allow a month for a transition to a new evening news anchor.
What's Next for Couric -- ABC?
Attention now turns to Couric's future career plans, which have centered on her launching a syndicated daytime talk
show in fall 2012. In recent days, ABC has emerged as a player in the Couric
derby. Several ABC spokespersons declined to comment.
If Couric ends up at ABC, her talk show will not be
syndicated, say sources.
ABC and its owned and affiliated stations are facing several
changes in daytime, with the pending departure of Oprah Winfrey and Regis
Philbin and the cancellation of two soap operas - All My Children and One
Life to Live - in favor of two new shows, The Chew and The
ABC would likely give Couric a network slot in daytime, and
that would mean that one of the network's new daytime shows scheduled to launch
this fall would have to fail. ABC also could cancel its last remaining soap, General
Hospital, to make room for Couric. At ABC, Couric also would have some
primetime news presence, which is important to her. Going with ABC offers
Couric a more secure place to land. Syndication potentially offers more upside,
but it also offers more risk.
CBS Television Distribution also remains in contention to
distribute a Couric-helmed talk show, and primetime news opportunities also
exist for Couric at CBS.
Neither NBCUniversal nor Warner Bros. remains in the mix.
One factor guiding the timing of any deal is that CBS has a
clause in its contract with Couric that allows it to match any offer that
Couric may get up until June 4, when Couric's contract with CBS expires. That
clause means that CBS is not motivated to make a high bid to retain Couric's
services, preferring instead to let other bidders set the price. Many sources
expect the deal making to run up to at least that date.