ABC is expected to keep Peter Jennings -- After months of speculation and network news shakeups, the evening news anchor is expected to re-up, without getting a raise

By Gary Susman
August 27, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the end, it seems neither of them had anyone else to turn to. After months of contract negotiations, ABC has agreed to keep ”World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings on board, according to published reports. In fact, after several months of upheavals in the network news world, he may be the last of the big three evening news anchors to remain standing. NBC’s Tom Brokaw has announced he’s stepping down in two years and giving his anchor chair to Brian Williams; CBS’ Dan Rather has re-upped for five years but is cutting back on his duties. ABC and Jennings have not discussed the details of their agreement, but he’s expected to stay on for at least three more years, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Earlier this year, it seemed like the 64-year-old anchor might be another casualty of the turmoil at the news division of the troubled network, an upheaval that almost included dumping ”Nightline” (a show one ABC exec called ”irrelevant”) in favor of David Letterman. This spring, it was widely reported that ABC would ask Jennings to take a 25 percent pay cut from his current salary, said to be more than $10 million per year. (Sure, Jennings could have threatened to walk, but who else would pay him that much? For its part, if ABC let him go, what younger correspondent could replace him who is recognizable and comfortable enough to audiences to draw the same ratings?)

Published reports vary on whether the network got Jennings to take a pay cut or will continue to pay him his current salary, but no reports have him getting a raise. It’s also possible that ABC will freeze his salary but allow him to cut back on his duties.

Whatever the terms of the deal, Jennings wouldn’t discuss them on Monday at a press conference to discuss his upcoming six-part series ”In Search of America,” which begins Sept. 3. But his eagerness to promote the project suggested he’s happy to remain at the network, especially when it lets him do special projects like this one.

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