OnMedia: Do anchors matter anymore?
There's nothing official, but all signs point to Katie Couric leaving the main anchor chair at CBS News when her contract expires in June and go to her own syndicated daytime talk show.
A report in today's The New York Times suggests she may be considering reuniting with her old "Today" show partner, Matt Lauer, in daytime TV. But more on Lauer later.
It's been five years since Couric's move from NBC's "Today" to the chair occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather was hyped as a new generation of anchors.
Whoever takes her place is certain not to get the same level of coverage. Things have changed.
CBS remains third in a shrinking market -- just as it was in 2006 when Couric came on board.
While there has been much talk of a changing role for traditional anchors, with their multi-million-dollar salaries, they're still tied to that 5:30 p.m. nightly newscast, an anachronistic model.
In the February ratings period, the combined audience of ABC, CBS and NBC's nightly newscasts averaged 24.5 million viewers. In 1980, that total exceeded 50 million viewers. It was still over 40 million in 1990, and had dipped into the 30s by 2000.
As the market shrinks, it's harder to pay those big salaries -- Couric gets $15 million -- a situation mirrored over the past few years in radio.
Today, news is available at all times, whether in a more limited form on cable or in unlimited ways on the Internet.
Running parallel to the Couric story is the report that both Lauer and Meredith Vieira are talking about leaving "Today." Vieira seems more likely to go this fall, for personal reasons. A 2 a.m. wake-up call isn't an easy thing, and she's talked about spending more time with her husband, Richard Cohen, who has battled multiple sclerosis and colon cancer.
Her contract's up in fall, and she has her daytime "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" job to fall back on.
As for Lauer, his contract isn't up until next year, and there's a chance this story is part of contract negotiations. He's been in that job since 1994, and remains at the top of his game. It's a phenomenal achievement, but he's not likely to match is $16 million salary if he leaves "Today."
On TV: Turner Classic Movies has scheduled a tribute to the late film director Sidney Lumet for April 21, starting at 7 with "12 Angry Men," a 9 p.m. airing of the documentary "Private Screenings: Sidney Lumet," at 10, it's "The Hill," and "Network airs at 12:15 a.m.
- NBC says a pregnant Tina Fey will host the May 7 "Saturday Night Live." She last hosted a year ago.
- HBO has ordered a third season of the animated "Ricky Gervais Show."
- Bravo has canceled "The Real Housewives of D.C."
Jon on Glenn: Comedy Central's Jon Stewart channeled departing Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck for the first two segments of his "Daily Show" on Thursday.
If you missed it, here's the opening:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Intro - Jon Tells the Truth While Wearing Glasses|
Who cares who reads the news? Not like they do the research, reporting and writing. Just need to be pleasant in appearance and speak clearly. Plenty of qualified people for that job.
Psssttt.... Viera's husband's name is Richard.
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