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    CBS: Couric Not Going Anywhere

    Lara Logan, be patient. Your time will come. Maybe just a little later than expected.

    CBS has put the kibosh on a widely circulated report that Katie Couric might be exiting from her CBS Evening News post before her $15-million-a-year contract expires in 2011.

    "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," a network rep said in a statement Thursday.

    The Eyeball's spinmeisters went to work in the wake of a Wall Street Journal story claiming a fresh face may be inevitable, thanks to CBS' dwindling Nielsens.

    In an online story published late Wednesday, the newspaper suggested Couric might leave the anchor desk as early as 2009, possibly after January's presidential inauguration, due to low ratings that have plummeted the Evening News well behind rivals ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

    CBS had begun to make headway, thanks in part to Couric's predecessor, Bob Schieffer, who was brought in temporarily to steady the ship after Dan Rather was forced out in 2005.

    Schieffer, who was CBS' veteran Washington correspondent, led the Evening News to its best numbers in years, attracting approximately 7 million viewers, though it's still lagging behind NBC's and ABC's broadcasts, which have been averaging more than 8 million.

    The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that CBS execs have been feeling the heat to make a change after the big-bucks gamble to hand the newscast's reins to the 51-year-old Couric. After a brief uptick in viewers following her debut, the former Today talker has presided over an Evening News whose audience share tumbled to a record low of 5 million viewers, while drawing flak from critics for her soft-news approach.

    CBS suits have also seen the network's prime-time ratings tumble, and are apparently aching for any kind of shake-up.

    Covering its bases, the Journal also speculated Couric—who's been on the job since September 2006 and is the first woman to helm a network evening newscast solo—could stick around if the ratings see an uptick because of an unexpected major news story.

    Otherwise, she might segue into a cushy gig replacing Larry King on his nightly CNN chatfest. The 76-year-old tube icon's contract is up in 2009, making Couric ripe for the picking, should he retire.

    As if to make its point, the Journal cited a lunch meeting Couric had in late January with CNN boss Jonathan Klein, who worked for many years at CBS and is said to be a good friend and longtime admirer of the former Today host. Couric also attended his birthday party in March.

    But CNN also smacked down the Journal report, saying the cable news net had "no plans to make any change" regarding King.

    Couric, meanwhile, released a separate statement through her own rep reiterating her goal to make CBS television's most watched newscast.

    "I am working hard and having fun," she said. "My colleagues continue to impress me with their commitment to the newscast, and I am very proud of the show we put on every day."

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