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Report: Couric Out, Pelley In At CBS Evening News

Howard Kurtz [1] reports that Katie Couric will be gone from CBS when her contract expires in June and that 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is a leading contender to replace her.

The 60 Minutes correspondent has long been a favorite of Fager, who doubles as the show’s executive producer. But with Fager taking a methodical approach to his first major decision, Pelley is not a lock. A few short weeks ago, the expectation in the Couric camp—after discussions with top CBS management—was that she would sign a new deal to stay in the anchor’s job through the 2012 elections as she figured out the next phase of her career. But the thinking on both sides has now changed as Couric has aggressively tested the waters—and found substantial interest in her services.

Couric has struggled since taking over the Evening News in 2006 for Bob Schieffer who was filling in after the network dumped Dan Rather after the veteran anchor botched a story on President Bush’s National Guard service in 2004.

Under Couric the news continually finished in third place behind NBC and ABC and ratings touched a 10 year low late last summer.

CBS lured Couric from the Today Show with a five year $15 million per year contract and despite the hype never managed to seriously compete with the other networks as Couric was forced to learn to contain herself to 22 minutes per night of more serious news and little of the fluff she was used to in her previous role at NBC.

The possibility that Pelley could take over the coveted anchor’s chair is a bit of a shock as he lacks the star power generally reserved for those fortunate enough to be anointed to the high pressure and high visibility job but on the other hand he won’t cost anywhere near $15 million and CBS will be looking for a cheap alternative during a period of diminishing revenues.

The longer that CBS drags out Couric’s future the more attention is focused on what a blunder they made by signing her in the first place.

They should put an end to their misery by letting Couric go and move on.