Move over Oprah - Couric set to rule daytime TV

May 20, 2011
Jonathan Harwood

The CBS anchor signed off after five years and is set to join ABC as a talkshow host

American news anchor Katie Couric, best known for her famous interview with Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election, has signed off after five years presenting the CBS Evening News, and could be set to take over from Oprah Winfrey as the queen of daytime talk shows.

According to the US media, Couric is being lined up by Disney-owned station ABC to host her own afternoon show. The network is anxious to fill the void left in its schedules by the departure of Oprah, whose final show will be broadcast next week.

She is also being tipped to make regular appearances on the ABC breakfast show Good Morning America, which would put her in direct competition with Today, the NBC programme that she hosted from 1991 to 2006, and her former co-presenter Matt Lauer.

Even though Couric's stint on the CBS Evening News ended last night, she is not expected to make her ABC debut until the autumn of 2012. And that raises the intriguing possibility that she could be reunited with Lauer on the Disney-owned channel. Jeff Zucker, the producer who worked with them both on NBC in the 1990s, will mastermind the new Couric show and the network is said to be keen on getting Lauer on board as well - his contract with NBC ends in late 2012.

However, one stumbling block for Couric could be money. She was reportedly paid $15m a year by CBS and ABC would be unable to match that - although it has been suggested that she will be offered a percentage of the profits of her show, which would be syndicated worldwide.

Couric said farewell to CBS with a five-minute montage of some of her most memorable moments while working for the station. Although it featured clips of interviews with figures like Barack Obama and reportage from the Haiti earthquake and last month's royal wedding, there was no mention of the infamous 2008 inquisition of Sarah Palin.

The interviews, in which Palin stumbled embarrassingly over questions about American foreign policy and appeared unable to name any US newspapers, were a disaster for the John McCain election campaign and cemented Palin's reputation as a loose cannon.

One Republican strategist even commented: "I think it was the most consequential interview from a negative perspective that a candidate for national office has gone through."

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