While ABC's decision to assign the World News anchor position to Diane Sawyer come January, when Charles Gibson steps down, may have solved one problem, it may have created a more serious one -- filling Sawyer's place on Good Morning America, the New York Times observed today (Friday). It noted that GMA "is by far the most profitable program in the news division," bringing in an estimated $50 million a year, even though it routinely places second behind NBC's Today. In an interview with the newspaper, Richard Wald, who has headed the news divisions of both NBC and ABC, predicted that current ABC news chief David Westin would use Sawyer's departure to "reinvent morning television" and compete more effectively against the Today show. However, another unnamed executive at a competing network commented, "If they want to try to take the show in a whole new direction, who will they get? Bill O'Reilly is not available. If they want to make it more like 'Morning Joe,' Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinski recently signed long-term deals." Not mentioned in the Times article was the possibility of returning Joan Lunden, who co-hosted GMA for 20 years before stepping down in 1996, to the show.

04/09/2009