Couric to Announce Her Move on 'Today'

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Katie Couric plans to confirm this morning on "Today" that she is leaving the top-rated morning show after 15 years, and CBS will quickly announce, probably today, that she will take over the anchor chair once occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather.

Couric, 49, decided yesterday to use the occasion of her 15th anniversary, when the NBC program will be reflecting on her tenure, to look forward to the next chapter in her career, said sources at both networks and people familiar with her thinking.

The sources, who first confirmed Couric's plans Monday, had expected the CBS negotiations to drag on a bit longer, but said now the network has wrapped up the negotiations and wants to go public as soon as Couric does.

Bob Schieffer, the current CBS anchor, who had made clear that he did not want to keep the job indefinitely, said yesterday: "I hope it is true. I've known Katie for many years; she's a first-rate reporter and a terrific interviewer. I love Katie and I think she'll love CBS News."

The move by Couric, who will remain at "Today" until her NBC contract expires in May, will have repercussions throughout the broadcast schedule. NBC, which is determined to maintain its morning ratings lead, has offered her job to Meredith Vieira of ABC's "The View" and the syndicated "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," who is still weighing the opportunity against family concerns. CBS is making a multimillion-dollar bet that Couric, who would be the first solo female anchor of a weekday network newscast, can boost the third-place "CBS Evening News."

Couric, who attracted enormous publicity while weighing her options, is said by those who know her to be brimming with ideas about how to adapt the evening newscast to her skills and personality.

The "Today" retrospective at 7:30 this morning will feature video clips of Couric over the years, followed by her comments about her departure, and will have a less celebratory tone than otherwise would have been the case. Couric is close to NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker, her original producer on "Today," the sources said, and has been trying to manage her departure without hurting relationships with him and other longtime colleagues at NBC.

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