A veteran news presenter could lose her primetime television spot.
CBS is speculated to replace Norah O’Donnell, after a new company co-president discovered the 47 year-old anchor is failing to attract more viewers.
Neeraj Khemlani is rumored to have begun searching for a fresh face on the “Evening News” team. The former Hearst executive, who replaced Susan Zirinsky, is also believed to be moving the program from Washington to New York City.
When asked about the speculation, Khemlani dismissed any suggestion he was transferring or reorganizing the anchor team. He claimed O’Donnell played a crucial role in reporting politics, breaking news, and extensive interviews. She also won multiple awards for covering the military, domestic abuse, and Washington policy changes.
“In addition to making headlines, the program is gaining audience share,” Khemlani said according to the New York Post.
The remarks came after the paper discovered Khemlani had appointed management consultants. The advisers were reportedly tasked with cutting costs for the Viacom-CBS merger.
Insiders claim O’Donnell’s $8 million annual salary is too high and predict she could receive a pay cut. They also believe the anchor could be transferred to a different role at “60 Minutes.”
The “Evening News” program only attracted 5.9 million total viewers in the 2019-2020 season. This was much lower than “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir” (9.4 million) and “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” (8.3 million) according to Nielsen.
Halfway through the 2018-2019 season, O’Donnell’s show ratings rose slightly with 5.8 million total viewers. This was still down from the 2017-2018 season under the lead of Jeff Glor, who drew 6.2 million viewers.
She mostly failed to win over the crucial 25 to 54 age demographic segment. The “Evening News” experienced a 15 percent drop in viewership to 1.1 million since the 2017-2018 season.
Insiders accuse the O’Donnell of exhibiting diva-like, “divisive” and “toxic” behavior in the workplace. She was allegedly rude to hair, makeup, and wardrobe staff. She also insisted on being provided with new designer clothes throughout the pandemic.
They suggested CBS “Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil, 40, could help significantly lower overhead costs.