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ABC Daytime announced today that television journalist Katie Couric has signed a multi-year, multi-platform deal with the network to host and produce her own nationally syndicated talk show and to join the ABC News team. The former TODAY SHOW co-anchor will launch her new program in September 2012.
The eight ABC-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh/Durham (N.C.) and Fresno (CA) -- which make up 23% of the nation's TV households -- have already cleared the new show in the 3:00 p.m. time slot. What does that mean for GENERAL HOSPITAL, which airs at that time in many markets? Most likely, GH will air in an earlier timeslot. For now, the network will return the last hour of its Daytime network block to affiliates no earlier than September 2012. The network's press release states that ABC continues to support GH and the plans to launch THE CHEW this September (replacing ALL MY CHILDREN) and THE REVOLUTION in January 2012 (after ONE LIFE TO LIVE ends).
ABC insiders tell Soaps In Depth that no decision about GH will officially be made by ABC until sometime next year. As the network heads into the launch of Couric's new show in September 2012, they will take a look at how all the shows -- GH, The Revolution and The Chew -- are doing in the ratings. At that point, any of them could be canned, cut down to 30 minutes, etc. As with any business, it will come down to ratings and profits.
What can GH fans do to save their soap? Not only tune in and watch themselves, but get other people to watch. Ratings will be what makes the final call next year about GH's fate.
UPDATE: ABC spokesperson Jori Petersen says "the announcement does not mean the inevitable cancellation of General Hospital. Rather it means that in September 2012 we will program our daytime block with our three strongest shows. We'll have options for the Daytime daypart just like with do each year with Primetime. We believe in all of our shows and the ones that our viewers want, will be the ones that continue. There are many options that could happen... only time will tell... we are simply giving ourselves options for the future, which is a smart way to do business. The best way to ensure a favorite show stays on the air is to watch it."