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Couric's staying, CBS insists

News unit says rumors of the anchor's early departure are untrue.

April 10, 2008|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — CBS News shot down a report Wednesday that implied that anchor Katie Couric was preparing to leave the network and her post on its flagship evening newscast as soon as next January, saying no such decision had been made.

"We are very proud of the 'CBS Evening News,' particularly our political coverage, and we have no plans for any changes regarding Katie or the broadcast," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its website Wednesday that Couric was "likely to leave" before her $15-million-a-year contract expires in 2011, perhaps after the next presidential inauguration.

It's no secret that the network has been disappointed by the performance of the "CBS Evening News," which lost viewers after Couric took over the anchor chair in 2006 and lags in third place behind rival broadcasts on NBC and ABC.

It has been widely speculated for some time that, barring a dramatic change, Couric was unlikely to stay at the helm of the newscast for three more years. But a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday that her exit was not in the works. "I am working hard and having fun," Couric said in a statement. "My colleagues continue to impress me with their commitment to the newscast, and I am very proud of the show we put on."

Couric, who left NBC's "Today" to become the first solo female evening news anchor, expressed frustration with the job last summer, saying that she did not anticipate viewers would be so resistant to the changes she and producers tried to make to the newscast in the early months.

"CBS Evening News" now follows a traditional format that leaves little room for Couric to show her exuberant personality.

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matea.gold@latimes.com

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