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Robin Roberts up, Katie Couric down in ABC News anchor shakeup



Gibsonsawyer2 It's the question that surfaced, moments after Charlie Gibson announced plans Wednesday to retire in January, turning the anchor chair at ABC's World News broadcast over to Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer.

Besides Sawyer, who wins and who loses in this deal?

The network hopes to find someone to replace Sawyer on GMA, according to an ABC spokesman, opening  all sorts of possibilities for succession and shuffling as Sawyer moves on.

It's not a optimum process; even Katie Couric had six months to prepare for her transition from NBC's Today to the CBS Evening News, while ABC has four months to get Sawyer ready for the big anchor chair and get her replacement on GMA.

At stake, supremacy among a trio of programs which still draw 15-million viewers a day and Sawyer's success as the new face of ABC News.

Here's my quick scorecard on who's up and down:

Robin-roberts WINNER: Robin Roberts -- Unless ABC can find a way to kidnap Meredith Vieira from Today, Roberts will be the top female anchor on GMA once Sawyer splits, standing at the center of ABC's morning show as it fights to stay competitive with NBC's longtime powerhouse.

WINNER: George Stephanopoulos -- The network's top political anchor now George-stephanopoulos1becomes ABC's Number Two news anchor, next in line for the big chair when Sawyer leaves and a far cry from the former Clinton aide struggling to learn the TV news business many years ago.

LOSER: Katie Couric -- You'd think it would be positive news for the first solo female network news anchor to see another woman join the fold. But if Sawyer takes over World News without the ratings turbulence Couric continues to suffer through -- now drawing about 4-millionBrian_williams viewers a night, she's earning the lowest ratings in the history of CBS' evening newscast -- it may indicate her problems on the Eye Network had little to do with gender issues.

 LOSER: Brian Williams -- The NBC News anchor has dominated ratings for a while; Sawyer will undoubtedly change that equation in the short term, as curious viewers tune in for her debut. If she can retain more of those curious lookee loos than Couric did, the balance of power in evening news may change significantly.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:01pm]


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