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Charles Gibson set to leave 'World News' Dec. 18

December 1, 2009 | 12:53 pm

Charles Gibson’s last day as anchor of ABC’s “World News” will be Dec. 18, the network announced today. Diane Sawyer is expected to take the reins of the broadcast the following Monday, Dec. 21.

Jon Banner, executive producer of “World News,” broke the news of Gibson’s departure date in a blog post. “It’s that time of year in this great country of ours when we give thanks for family and friends and focus on the things that matter most to us. It’s no different here in the newsroom, where we are preparing to see our very good friend and anchor off as he begins a new journey,” Banner wrote. “We’ve known this day was coming; Charlie first told us of his desire to retire in early September. As he said then, it’s the right time for him and his amazing family.”

Banner said the broadcast was going to devote the last week of his tenure recapping the stories Gibson has covered in his three decades at the network.

ABC announced in September that Gibson had decided to retire and that Sawyer, who had long sought the evening news post, would succeed him. Publicly, ABC has sought to be low-key about the transition and has planned little in the way of a major marketing campaign to announce the changeover. But behind the scenes, Sawyer has spent much of the last few months focused on her plans for the broadcast, meeting extensively with producers about how to put her imprint on the program.

The network has yet to announce how it plans to replace Sawyer on “Good Morning America," though sources close to the morning show said “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos was viewed as the leading candidate. Network executives are also considering "GMA" news anchor Chris Cuomo.

-- Matea Gold