ABC play for Katie Couric?

Network may offer daytime slot for yakker

The speculation about Katie Couric’s future yak show plans has centered on her cutting a syndication deal. But sources indicate there’s a strong chance that ABC will put a network daytime slot on the table when the bidding for Couric begins in earnest as she sets her segue from “The CBS Evening News.”

It’s no secret that ABC intends to pare down its three-hour slate of daytime sudsers (“All My Children,” “General Hospital” and “One Life to Live”) in the coming years. A Couric show could be a high-profile transition for the Alphabet in one of the time slots now occupied by its decades-old serials.

ABC’s selling point might be the stability of a uniform network timeslot and the fact that its O&O and affiliate stations tend to be stronger in daytime than its rivals — particularly the NBC O&Os. On the other hand, a network show could not offer the same kind of potential windfall of a first-run syndie strip, which in success can be a license to print money (just ask Oprah).

CBS, NBC and Warner Bros.’ Telepictures are known to be prepping aggressive bids for Couric’s services. One source close to the process said a deal was unlikely to come together until after Couric’s existing contract with CBS expires in early June, because the Eye has a right to match any outside offers until then.

The wheeling and dealing — spearheaded by the Couric strike force team comprised of CAA’s Alan Berger, attorney Craig Jacobson, syndie biz vet Ed Wilson and her once-and-future exec producer Jeff Zucker — will probably heat up early next month, after Couric returns from her trip to the U.K. to cover the royal nuptials on April 29.

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