Network plays down recent reports

CBS is playing down renewed reports that Katie Couric will step down as anchor of “The CBS Evening News” after the election.

Couric and CBS execs have been discussing the possibility of her departure in the light of the newscast’s continued disappointing performance in the ratings, according to stories in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The Journal was the first to report the alleged talks via a story on its website Wednesday night.

Latest round of rumors come nearly a year to the date after a similar report by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Eye officials vehemently batted down that story, but were more muted in their response to Wednesday’s report.

 “We are very proud of the ‘CBS Evening News,’ particularly our political coverage, and we have no plans for any changes regarding Katie or the broadcast,” the network said.

A CBS News spokeswoman was more adamant in her denials of last year’s story by former Inquirer columnist Gail Shister.

“This piece is beyond ridiculous — unfounded, gratuitous, utterly malicious and, most importantly, untrue, as stated unequivocally by CBS News President Sean McManus,” the Eye spokeswoman said last year.

Despite the denials, the Washington Post speculated that Couric’s post-anchor career at CBS could include a syndicated talk show or a full-time role on “60 Minutes.”

 Couric signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the network in 2006. Despite high hopes, “Evening News” has remain stuck in third place in the ratings.

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