By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Apr 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM

There's nothing official, but all signs point to Katie Couric leaving the main anchor chair at CBS News when her contract expires in June and go to her own syndicated daytime talk show.

A report in today's The New York Times suggests she may be considering reuniting with her old "Today" show partner, Matt Lauer, in daytime TV. But more on Lauer later.

It's been five years since Couric's move from NBC's "Today" to the chair occupied by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather was hyped as a new generation of anchors.

Whoever takes her place is certain not to get the same level of coverage. Things have changed.

CBS remains third in a shrinking market -- just as it was in 2006 when Couric came on board.

While there has been much talk of a changing role for traditional anchors, with their multi-million-dollar salaries, they're still tied to that 5:30 p.m. nightly newscast, an anachronistic model.

In the February ratings period, the combined audience of ABC, CBS and NBC's nightly newscasts averaged 24.5 million viewers. In 1980, that total exceeded 50 million viewers. It was still over 40 million in 1990, and had dipped into the 30s by 2000.

As the market shrinks, it's harder to pay those big salaries -- Couric gets $15 million --  a situation mirrored over the past few years in radio.

Today, news is available at all times, whether in a more limited form on cable or in unlimited ways on the Internet.

Running parallel to the Couric story is the report that both Lauer and Meredith Vieira are talking about leaving "Today." Vieira seems more likely to go this fall, for personal reasons. A 2 a.m. wake-up call isn't an easy thing, and she's talked about spending more time with her husband, Richard Cohen, who has battled multiple sclerosis and colon cancer.

Her contract's up in fall, and she has her daytime "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" job to fall back on.

As for Lauer, his contract isn't up until next year, and there's a chance this story is part of contract negotiations.  He's been in that job since 1994, and remains at the top of his game. It's a phenomenal achievement, but he's not likely to match is $16 million salary if he leaves "Today."

On TV: Turner Classic Movies has scheduled a tribute to the late film director Sidney Lumet for April 21, starting at 7 with "12 Angry Men," a 9 p.m. airing of the documentary "Private Screenings: Sidney Lumet," at 10, it's "The Hill," and "Network airs at 12:15 a.m.

  • NBC says a pregnant Tina Fey will host the May 7 "Saturday Night Live." She last hosted a year ago.
  • HBO has ordered a third season of the animated "Ricky Gervais Show."
  • Bravo has canceled "The Real Housewives of D.C."

Jon on Glenn: Comedy Central's Jon Stewart channeled departing Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck for the first two segments of his "Daily Show" on Thursday.

If you missed it, here's the opening:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Intro - Jon Tells the Truth While Wearing Glasses
Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.