October 17, 2005

ABC to replace Koppel with 3 anchors

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ending months of speculation, ABC
News said on Monday it will replace departing "Nightline"
veteran Ted Koppel with a three-host team of British journalist
Martin Bashir, White House correspondent Terry Moran and
"Primetime" anchor Cynthia McFadden.

The new three-anchor format, with Moran based in Washington
and McFadden and Bashir in New York, will begin with the
program's first post-Koppel broadcast on November 28, ABC said.

In another change to the show under incoming executive
producer James Goldston, "Nightline" will cover multiple news
topics each night, rather than its traditional devotion of each
broadcast to a single subject.

Koppel, 65, who has hosted "Nightline" since its official
1980 debut in the midst of the U.S.-Iranian hostage crisis,
will anchor his last segment of the program on November 22 and
leave ABC after 42 years with the network.

Bashir, who joined ABC last year, first came to wide
attention in the United States for his landmark 2003
documentary "Living with Michael Jackson," in which the pop
star acknowledged sharing his bedroom with visiting youngsters.
That admission that led to Jackson's trial on charges of child
molestation, but he was ultimately acquitted.

Moran anchors the Sunday night broadcast of "ABC World News
Tonight" and has served as the network's chief White House
correspondent since 1999.

McFadden was hired by ABC News in 1994 as a legal affairs
correspondent and in 2004 became co-anchor for the network's
"Primetime" news magazine, a post she will keep after beginning
her new "Nightline" stint next month.

ABC said Bashir will continue reporting for the program
"20/20" after joining the "Nightline" team.

Monday's announcement followed months of speculation about
the form and direction "Nightline" would take after the Koppel
and the outgoing executive producer Tom Bettag left the show.
ABC announced in March that Koppel would be stepping aside at
the end of this year.

"Nightline," which helped usher in the nation's demand for
round-the-clock news, evolved from a series of late-night news
specials devoted to coverage of the takeover of the U.S.
Embassy in Tehran in November 1979.

The specials, titled "The Iran Crisis: America Held
Hostage," were first anchored by Frank Reynolds, then by
Koppel, who stayed on to become host of "Nightline" when it
debuted as a regular ABC program on March 24, 1980.

The changing of the guard at "Nightline" comes as the show
is enjoying a ratings upswing, due in large part to its
coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

More than three years ago, ABC sparked a furor when it was
revealed that the network had quietly sought to recruit
comedian David Letterman, star of the "CBS Late Show," to host
a new ABC talk show that would replace "Nightline."