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George Stephanopoulos To Stay At ABC News

George Stephanopoulos To Stay At ABC News

ABC got some good news when evening-news anchor and Sunday morning fixture George Stephanopoulos signed a new contract, which may be as long as five years, according to media reports.

Stephanopoulos has decided to remain at ABC at a time when the network is putting intense pressure on NBC, which has traditionally been No.1 in television ratings for evening news, breakfast-hour television and on Sunday morning.

ABC is pushing hard to unseat its rival, despite some high-profile departures at Good Morning America, in news anchor Josh Elliott and weatherman Sam Champion.

It would represent a sea change in viewers’ habits if ABC could find a way to create some distance between itself and NBC in the three key news areas. David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press has been seen as being vulnerable. Then there was Ann Curry’s messy departure from NBC’s Today show, in which it was suggested in gossipy media circles that co-anchor Matt Lauer engineered her exit. The Today show has suffered a negative public image ever since, opening the door wider for ABC’s Good Morning America to charge through.

TV viewers are essentially creatures of habit who don’t change the channel lightly when it comes to their favorite news personalities. Anchors and personalities who can connect viscerally to the audience watching at home have a good chance of establishing themselves.

In today’s chatty TV world, it depends largely on how much an audience likes the anchors and journalists. Most news shows tend to show the same sort of segments over and over so it comes down to how much the viewers will embrace ABC’s team over NBC’s.

Stephanopoulos has proved himself to be a skilled anchor who is capable of lightening up just enough to attract viewers who don’t want a steady diet of only hard news.

He came from the world of White House politics and has managed to strike a balance between breaking news and lifestyle stories. He has shown ABC — and NBC — that he is a TV force to stay.

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