CBS CEO says no plans to replace Couric: source

Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:23pm EDT
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS Corp Chief Executive Les Moonves offered Katie Couric his support on Friday, telling the CBS News anchor and her staff there were no plans to replace her.

Couric's job security has been under intense scrutiny since a report in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that said she could leave her job as anchor well before her contract expires in 2011, possibly as early as next January after the U.S. presidential inauguration.

"She's our anchor today, she's our anchor tomorrow, and she's our anchor in the future," Moonves said during a visit to the CBS newsroom, according to an executive who was present and spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The CEO's comments come as CBS is stuck in last place in the network news ratings more than 19 months after Couric took over as the first female solo anchor of a major U.S. evening newscast. Her salary is reportedly worth $15 million a year.

The source said Moonves and CBS News President Sean McManus decided to address staff because they were "getting frustrated that a lot of the facts of what was going on were misrepresented in the newspapers."

According to the source, they told the staff of "CBS Evening News" that although they would like stronger ratings, they "love the broadcast, love the job that Katie is doing, and there are no plans for any changes in the future."

Network executives plan to keep tabs on the progress of the telecast in coming months to determine if steps need to be taken, the source said.

"At some point, if we don't think there is any chance ratings would get better, there may be talk about a change. But we're nowhere near that point," the source said.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch)

<p>CBS Evening News anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent Katie Couric listens before an interview with journalist Marvin Kalb, in the first instalment of this year's "Kalb Report" series, in Washington September 25, 2007. REUTERS/Molly Riley</p>