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Matt Lauer: ‘The Last NBC News Star From the Era When Broadcast Still Ruled’

With NBC News and Matt Lauer reportedly closing in on the terms of a new contract, New York‘s Gabe Sherman takes a look at how the negotiations have unfolded. As ABC’s “Good Morning America” continues to close the gap with “Today” in the mornings, and CBS’ “Face the Nation” trades off the top spot with “Meet the Press” on Sundays, Sherman points out NBC is left “needing Lauer even more than it might have expected to just a year ago”:

Today is a huge moneymaker for NBC, generating ad revenues in excess of $450 million in 2010, according to Kantar Media. Lauer is the key to that haul. After playing the beta to Katie Couric’s alpha, he’s now the linchpin of the franchise, his versatility and likability buoying the program ever since her departure in 2006. Lauer’s worth only increased when Meredith Vieira left and handed the co-anchor chair to Ann Curry, who in the eyes of many television-news executives has experienced a rocky transition to her new role.

With the death of Tim Russert and the retirement of Tom Brokaw, Lauer has emerged as the last NBC News star from the era when broadcast still ruled.

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