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Couric stays with ‘Today’

NBC's $7 mil helps make Couric's day

NEW YORK — Katie Couric has decided to spend her tomorrows working for “Today.”

Despite serious overtures from three other networks as well as several syndicators, the NBC morning-show anchor has worked out a new four-year contract with the Peacock web that industry insiders believe will pay her $6 million to $7 million per year. At least one source believes the figure could go even higher once stock options and other sweetners are figured in.

Assuming a few key details can be finalized, Couric could ink the deal as early as today.

The agreement represents a huge raise for Couric, who currently pulls in a little more than $2 million per year. It also puts the morning-show vet in the same monetary league as news biz megastars like Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer and Geraldo Rivera, all of whom have deals worth at least $5 million annually.

Brokaw has been NBC’s highest-paid newsie, earning around $7 million per year.

Couric’s decision to stay with NBC isn’t a big shock, considering the runaway success of “Today” and her solid relationships with key execs at the web. With the recent death of her husband, stability and providing for her children’s future may also have been top concerns for Couric.

Still, sources close to Couric say she seriously entertained proposals from other networks and the possibility of launching a syndicated talker. Execs at two webs were prepared to shell out huge sums had Couric indicated real interest in making a jump.

Signing Couric to a new deal has been a major goal of NBC execs, who have been quietly working to secure longterm contracts for all of the web’s main news stars. Brokaw, Rivera, “Dateline NBC” co-host Stone Phillips, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams and “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert have all negotiated new deals within the past 18 months.

As for Couric, she has proven to be a key factor in the success of “Today,” which has been the top-rated network morning program for more than two years running. The show regularly crushes its ABC and CBS rivals, sometimes drawing more viewers than the other two shows combined.

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