Wednesday, November 30, 2005

KATIE TO CBS RUMORS START AGAIN

It's almost December and these TV networks STILL don't have in place their new, permanent anchors. This has gotten to be a big joke. ABC News claims they've made their decision but are refusing to say what it is. I think they have an idea but are waiting to find out what Katie Couric does before they they announce it.

The rumor mill is on again and the word is talks are on again between Katie Couric and CBS. The new management team is in place now at CBS News and the word is they're going after Katie for the CBS Evening News job. Seems Les Moonves wants her big-time. Seems also the contract talks are off with the Today Show, at least for right now. And NBC as a network is in chaos. Ratings are in the tank and there were big layoffs over there last week, in news.

I don't know what to make of these Couric rumors. Some think it's a good move but there are detractors, like this Marketwatch guy. He says: why doesn't CBS News go in-house and develop their own talent? He's right! Why CBS doesn't simply hand-pick someone from within and groom them for the anchor chair, I don't know. It's not as if the people on their staff right now are all pathetic losers; they actually have some good reporters and decent anchors. Their talent is getting wasted.

The history in the USA is for the networks to go in-house for their anchors, to promote from within. They usually don't try and go outside to steal their new anchors unless their whole news division is a mess, and you'd think the last thing they want to do is advertise to the world that their news division is a mess. CBS and NBC have traditionally promoted from within. The only network that had to go outside was ABC back in the 1970s, when they lured Harry Reasoner from CBS and later Barbara Walters from NBC. But everyone knew ABC News was a mess, so that was different. ABC was the biggest joke in the news business in those days; they had no money and a history of changing anchors all the time. The best people they had in-house were Frank Reynolds and Peter Jennings, and they tried them already as anchors and they flopped. Jennings was in fact so young that he had been basically laughed off the air. In 1969 they decided to go with dual anchors. They gave one of the jobs to Howard K. Smith, an in-house person, and went outside to get Reasoner. Then they later paired Reasoner with Walters. Incidentally, it didn't go very well, this strategy of going outside. ABC eventually wound up putting Reynolds and Jennings back on the air anyway. Luring people from other networks doesn't seem to work very well.

Mind you, CBS has a notorious history of stealing people from other networks. Bill Paley stole a ton of entertainment talent from NBC in his famous raids in the 1940s. They also stole an unhappy David Letterman from NBC and put him in late night at 11:35. And Katie Couric is bound to be fed up with getting up in the morning at 4AM or whatever time she gets up. But this isn't entertainment, folks, this is NEWS. I guess CBS figures they are in a similar situation to the 1970s-era ABC News, they have nothing to lose and no one in-house. Well, if that's really the case, then it's CBS' fault for not showcasing the people they have and building them up.

Forget about dogged loyalty to your network, eh? What a slap in the face to these CBS News staffers. If I were John Roberts right now I'd be telling my agent to start looking elsewhere. Maybe he can go back to CTV, maybe Lloyd will retire one of these days. Fat chance.

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