Ted Koppel to anchor last ‘Nightline’ on Nov. 22
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Broadcast journalist Ted Koppel,
the face of late-night newscast “Nightline” for a quarter
century, will anchor the show for the last time on November 22,
but ABC News has not decided who will replace him, the network
said on Thursday.
Koppel, 65, becomes the latest in a string of veteran
network news anchors to sign off in recent months, following
Tom Brokaw of NBC, Dan Rather of CBS and Koppel’s ABC News
colleague, the late Peter Jennings.
Koppel, who has hosted “Nightline” since its official 1980
debut in the midst of the U.S.-Iranian hostage crisis, plans to
continue working on news projects with the show’s outgoing
executive producer, Tom Bettag, after their departure.
The network said in March that Koppel would step down from
the program when his contract expired in December, but ABC News
spokeswoman Emily Lenzner said Koppel decided he wanted to
leave before Thanksgiving.
No decisions have been made about the nature of Koppel’s
final November 22 broadcast or who will succeed him when the
weeknight series resumes without him on November 28, she said.
Recent media reports about the program’s future have
suggested the broadcast, which originates in Washington, would
be shared by multiple anchors based in different studios.
“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.
News of Koppel’s departure date comes as “Nightline” is
enjoying an upswing in the ratings, due in large part to its
coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath.
For the week of August 29, the series drew a bigger
audience than both NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” or
the CBS “Late Show with David Letterman” for the first time
since the start of the Iraq war in 2003. The show has beaten
Letterman, usually No. 2 in the late-night ratings, in three
out of the first four weeks since August 29.
More than three years ago, ABC looked into poaching
Letterman from CBS for the late-night slot occupied by