The arrangement is seen, in part, as a way to fill the void left at those stations when Oprah Winfrey's show, almost universally aired at 4 p.m., wrapped in May. Five of the seven largest ABC-owned stations, including 6ABC, have filled the slot with local news and information programming.
In April, ABC announced the cancellation of the soap operas One Life to Live and All My Children, to be replaced by shows about cooking and health and lifestyle. Disney/ABC reaffirmed its commitment to those shows and also said it "continues to support" the network's one remaining soap opera, General Hospital.
Couric's talk show is described as primarily interviews, heavy on the kind of human-interest stories that were her forte at NBC's Today before she left to anchor The CBS Evening News five years ago, a position that ran out last month. Since it would be produced only 39 weeks a year and in reruns the rest of the time, the show would not be able to rely on news. Feature and performance segments, like those on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, may also be part of Couric's lineup.
The Hollywood Reporter puts Couric's pay at between $5 million and $10 million annually for both jobs. She could boost that, if the talk show is a success - far from guaranteed despite her name recognition - and she can renew her two-year contract with more favorable terms.
With Sawyer, Christiane Amanpour, and Barbara Walters, Couric's hiring gives ABC the blue-chip stable of female news-talk stars. Couric said, "I'm very happy to be returning to the network where I began my career as a desk assistant in 1979."
Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/jonathanstorm.