7 Big-Time TV Anchors Who Are Abandoning Their Posts This Year

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Photo: ScrapeTV.com

It’s like a game of musical chairs for talk show hosts and new anchors.Over the past several months some long-time television personalities have abandoned their posts for non-traditional venues and callings, while some are even giving up the small screen altogether.

This comes at a time when the media industry is starting to regain its footing from the advertising downturn brought on by the recession. Networks are eager to discover the next big name, which often means pushing out established TV faces that have been household names for several decades.

How audiences want to receive their news is also shifting, with many younger viewers relying on commentary from non-traditional sources like Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, rather than unbiased reporting. This has been a boon for some networks, but has put pressure on the ratings of more traditional news programs.

This generational shift is forcing broadcasters to reconsider their audience and programming.

One clear indication of this desire for newness was ABC’s recent decision to cancel two iconic soap operas, All My Children and One Life To Live. The soap operas are being replaced by The Chew, a food talk show hosted by celebrity chef Mario Batali, and Revolution, a health makeover show.

This has left TV news anchors and hosts looking to reinvent themselves as well, with several abandoning major broadcast networks to try to profit off their own shows and production companies. The absence of many of these familiar faces may make it difficult for viewers to recognise their favourite networks and it remains questionable how they will receive these changes.

This post originally appeared at TheStreet.

ANCHOR #1: Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann returned to television on Monday, moving to little-known Current TV from MSNBC.

Current TV was founded in 2005 by former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and is available in about 60 million households. Over the next year the network plans to build a line-up of prime time shows around Olbermann that will focus on political commentary and news.

Olbermann walked away from MSNBC, which is owned by Comcast (CMCSA), in January, for the chief executive position and an equity stake in Current TV. He re-launched 'Countdown' Monday night on the network during the 8 p.m. time slot.

Olbermann also hinted last week that he would consider hiring former New York Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned after sending suggestive photos to a number of women online.

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ANCHOR #2: Regis Philbin

Talk about going out with the old and in with the new. rumours surfaced on Monday that ABC may be tapping American Idol host Ryan Seacrest as a replacement for Regis Philbin.

Seacrest's name appears on the short-list of possible successors to Philbin, 79, who has been the face of his namesake breakfast talk show for more than 25 years. Philbin announced last year that he plans to retire from 'Live With Regis and Kelly' in November.

According to reports, Andy Cohen, TV host and former Bravo executive, and actor Mark Consuelos are also being considered to fill Philbin's shoes. Conseulos is married to Philbin's co-host Kelly Ripa.

This comes after 'Live With Regis and Kelly' tied with Dr. Mehmet Oz for a Daytime Emmy for best talk show.

While Philbin has noted that he'd like to try something new, he has not disclosed any specific plans.

ANCHOR #3: Katie Couric

Katie Couric struck a much-anticipated deal with Walt Disney (DIS) earlier in the month to join ABC's news team this summer as well as to host and produce her own afternoon talk show.

The talk show, which is currently untitled, is set to premier in September 2012 in the 3 p.m. time slot.

'I'm very happy to be returning to the network where I began my career as a desk assistant in 1979,' Couric said in a statement. 'It is tremendously exciting to have the creative freedom to develop my own show.'

Couric is a risk for ABC, who will surely have to dole out a big chunk of change for the well-known name.

Couric moves to ABC after a five-year stint as the anchor for CBS (CBS) Evening News. Couric joined CBS in 2006, becoming the first women to anchor a network TV evening newscast solo.

But Couric was constantly criticised for her inability to drive ratings, and CBS is hoping to dig out of its third-place ranking among evening newscasts with her replacement, Scott Pelley.

In the week following Pelley taking over the anchor chair, the show averaged 5.7 million viewers, matching Couric's final month on the network.

Prior to joining CBS, Couric co-hosted the 'Today' show for 15 years.

ANCHOR #4: Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer left his post as the anchor of 'NewsHour' on PBS on June 6 after 36 years, ending the longest run of any national anchorman.

Lehrer has been preparing for his exit since 2009, removing his name from the program, which was previously called 'NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,' and expanding his team.

Lehrer was one of the first journalists to interview President Bill Clinton following the Monica Lowinsky scandal and has served as the moderator for a number of presidential candidate debates.

Anchors Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warnerm will continue hosting the broadcast on a rotating basis. Lehrer will still appear on the show on some Fridays and will remain involved in the editorial direction of the program.

ANCHOR #5: Oprah Winfrey

The Queen of Talk gave up her throne last month, leaving a void in ABC's daytime programming.

After 25 years as an iconic inspirational guru, Oprah Winfrey is now turning her attention to her cable channel OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which has struggled to find an audience.

Winfrey's farewell episode drew 16.4 million viewers for ABC, the biggest overnight rating for the talk show in 17 years.

ABC, a unit of Walt Disney (DIS), must now find a way to retain the 6.5 million displaced viewers that the' Oprah Winfrey Show' attracted on average on a daily basis, or else risk losing them to other networks.

While it is unrealistic to think any one personality or show will be able to replace Winfrey, ABC is placing a bet on Katie Couric. As previously referenced, the 'Today' show host turned news anchor recently struck a deal with Walt Disney for her own syndicated talk show, which is expected to premier in Fall 2013.

ANCHOR #6: Glenn Beck

The controversial right-wing television host, Glenn Beck, is leaving cable channel Fox News, a division of News Corp. (NWSA), at the end of the month after two-and-a-half years at the station.

Beck's show draws an average of about 1.9 million viewers, dwarfing that of other cable shows in the same time slot. But in the first quarter of the year, his ratings are down 30%, most dramatically in the coveted demographic of viewers ages 25 to 54.

Beck is choosing to take an equity stake in himself, moving to the Internet to voice his conservative stance. His production company, Mercury Radio Arts, launched an online video network, GBTV, which will feature a two-hour show hosted by Beck starting in September, as well as other original and licensed entertainment and news content.

Beck's show will air at 5 p.m. ET, in the same time slot he had on Fox News. It will also be available on demand.

GBTV, an Internet-only channel, offers packages to subscribers ranging from $4.95 to $9.95 per month.

Achor #7: Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira bid adieu to the 'Today' show earlier this month. Her final appearance drew 6.1 million viewers for NBC, which is owned by Comcast.

Vieria is leaving 'Today' five years after she replaced Katie Couric. In comparison, Couric's final show on 'Today' brought in 8.4 million viewers.

Viera's $11 million contract, which she renewed for one year in 2010, was set to expire.

Ann Curry has replaced Vieira, with her first episode drawing 5.5 million total viewers. She will co-host the show with Matt Lauer,

Vieira, it seems, didn't quit the breakfast TV show for a new gig. Instead she has told the press that she simply wants to sleep in and focus on enjoying life.

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