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Katie Couric, Piers Morgan and CNN’s 9 p.m. Slot

Couric080210.jpg The New York TimesBrian Stelter writes about “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric and CNN’s apparent 9 p.m. host Piers Morgan.

At the heart of Stelter’s story is that Couric was long considered a favorite to take over for Larry King, but when the timetable for King’s departure was accelerated, Morgan was in the right place at the right time.

Still, when her current deal expires next year, Couric could very well find her way onto CNN. Stelter reports seeing Couric dining with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes at the swanky New York restaurant Marea last week.

And of course there is always the possibility that the long-rumored deal between CBS News and CNN could finally happen:

It is possible that CNN and CBS – always rumored to be weighing a news-sharing pact – could share Ms. Couric; already the CNN stars Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta contribute to the CBS program “60 Minutes.” The two companies continue to talk about a broader merger or content-sharing arrangement.

Her hiring would reinforce CNN’s hard news brand. Some people at CNN think Ms. Couric would work well at 7 p.m., a spot now taken up by “John King, USA,” an underperforming show that is starting to come under scrutiny.

Stelter also reports that Morgan was talking to CNN executives a full nine weeks before King announced his retirement:

Earlier this year, through a quiet but persistent campaign, Mr. Morgan made himself a viable candidate. His job application was his British interview show, “Life Stories.” He presented himself as a solution to a problem – the problem being CNN’s dreadful 9 p.m. ratings, which counted 674,000 viewers in the spring versus 995,000 for MSNBC and 2.63 million for Fox News…
Mr. Morgan and his longtime agent and friend, John Ferriter, first met with CNN executives in late April. CNN says it was a routine talent meeting that was not related to any potential opening. After the meeting, the executives viewed some episodes of “Life Stories” and their interest was piqued.

Read the whole story here.

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