A high-stakes bidding war is going on for Diane Sawyer that could make the ABC News anchorwoman the highest-paid network news star.
Sawyer has been actively courted by all four broadcast networks, according to an article in the Feb. 14 New Yorker by “Three Blind Mice” scribe Ken Auletta.
Among the offers on the table is a proposal from CBS Broadcast Group president Howard Stringer to have Sawyer anchor a 7 p.m. “Nightline”-style newscast following “The CBS Evening News With Dan Rather and Connie Chung.”
The plan would be for CBS to syndicate the Sawyer newscast with a studio partner and give Sawyer part ownership to add potential millions to an annual base salary of $ 4 million.
However, CBS would face giant hurdles in getting stations to carry a serious news show in the extremely lucrative primetime access time period, where stations reap millions in revenues from shows such as “Wheel of Fortune” and “Entertainment Tonight.”
Meeting with Murdoch
In addition, Sawyer has met with Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch wants Sawyer to be the centerpiece of Fox’s fledgling news division. According to a Fox source, he’s willing to pay $ 7 million a year for her services. Sawyer’s agent, Richard Liebner, claims the Fox package is worth nearly $ 10 million a year.
ABC News is still the front-runner to retain Sawyer’s services. But it will be costly. Sawyer has already left a $ 4 million offer from ABC on the table. The network already pays Peter Jennings an estimated $ 7 million a year and just signed Ted Koppel to a new pact reportedly worth between $ 5 million and $ 6 million a year. Sawyer is looking for at least as much as her fellow Alphabet web stars. The last figure Liebner left on the table at ABC was $ 8 million a year.