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Show's Executive Producer Also Exiting; New Format Planned

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NEW YORK ( -- Ted Koppel, the host of ABC's Nightline for 25 years, is stepping down when his contract expires in December.
Photo: AP
Ted Koppel has worked for ABC News for 42 years.

The ABC broadcaster is the latest veteran network journalist, along with Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, to step down from his anchor role. Mr. Koppel told ABC he will exit his news program Nightline in December when his contract expires. His executive producer, Tom Bettag, is also leaving.

'Nightline' host
Mr. Koppel has worked for ABC News for 42 years, the last 25 of which were as host of Nightline, a program that cemented Mr. Koppel's reputation as a tough interviewer.

ABC News President David Westin said in a staff e-mail today: "Ted and I have discussed a number of options under which he might have remained at Nightline or in some other capacity at ABC News, but Ted believes this is the right time for him to leave."

Format changes
Regarding Nightline, which airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m., when other networks run profitable late-night talk shows, an ABC spokesman said the network will continue to produce the show but will make some format changes. The network has tried unsuccessfully to create a show that would appeal to younger audiences and go up against the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman, whom ABC tried to woo away from CBS a few years ago.

"It will be a program that loyal Nightline viewers will recognize," the ABC spokesman said.

Changing of the guard
The last few months have seen a changing of the guard at the network news divisions. Mr. Rather's last broadcast as anchor of the CBS Evening News was March 9; Mr. Brokaw retired from the NBC Nightly News in December.

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