And then there was one?
CBS no longer has an offer out to Katie Couric for a syndicated talk show, according to people familiar with the discussions. That would put ABC in line for the services of the departing CBS Evening News anchor.
CBS was interested in keeping Couric in the family with a daytime syndicated program, but the negotiations have bogged down over the issue of how much of a role Couric can have at CBS News. The plan had CBS News continuing to use Couric on 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning. ABC's offer gives Couric the opportunity to appear on a wider array of news division programs. The network's 2012 presidential election coverage and more prime time specials are said to be part of the mix.
A source in Couric's camp insists the situation is a fluid one with both parties remaining interested, and Couric still open to a deal with CBS. Her five-year contract with CBS runs until early June, so even if the network is out of the running now, CBS has the right to match any ABC offer that comes in before that date. However, by making it known in the industry that they currently don't have active talks going is a sure sign that CBS executives expect her to leave.
CBS has the largest syndication operation in the TV business, responsible for Judge Judy, Wheel of Fortune, Entertainment Tonight, Dr. Phil and The Oprah Winfrey Show. While Couric's wildly successful run on NBC's Today makes her an ideal talent for a daytime program, there was concern at CBS Television Distribution that there has been so much focus on the news element of the deal. A CBS Television Distribution spokesman had no comment on the status of its interest in Couric.
Couric's talk show would not debut until 2012, but she could presumably start working for ABC News once her CBS deal is up.
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