Lots of options for Katie Couric at CNN if that's what she wants
Although she still has almost a year to go on her contract, speculation is starting to heat up on whether Katie Couric will remain with CBS as anchor of its evening newscast or move elsewhere in 2011.
There has always been talk that Couric was a likely replacement for Larry King at CNN once he stepped down from his hourlong chat show. However, with British talk-show host Piers Morgan expected to take that job, that window may be closing on Couric, per the New York Times.
But just because King's 9 p.m. ET show may go to someone else doesn't mean that there aren't other openings for Couric at the cable news channel if that's what she wants. CNN is struggling in just about every evening hour and would gladly plug Couric in anywhere to try to stop the bleeding.
Even if Couric had her heart set on CNN's 9 p.m. slot, odds are the network would find a way to make that happen. It's not as though Morgan is some established brand that can't be moved.
The real question is whether Couric would want to go to CNN. Although she has not had the smoothest of rides since leaving NBC's "Today" show to take over as anchor of the "CBS Evening News," she still gets a bigger audience than most cable news programs. It remains to be seen if she would view moving to cable as a step backward.
If Couric does want off CBS' signature newscast, her broadcast options are pretty limited. Both ABC and NBC are set with their anchors -- Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams, respectively -- and a return to morning, while easily doable on CBS, would also seem unlikely at NBC or ABC.
That leaves syndication. In terms of a payday, an afternoon talk show featuring Couric would likely be an easy sell to television stations. The risk is to Couric's image. She has always walked a fine line between serious newscaster and celebrity figure. A daytime talk show may lower her stature as a journalist, and you can't put a price tag on that.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: CBS' Katie Couric speaks at the Time/Fortune/CNN Global Forum in June. Credit: Michelly Rall / Getty Images