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Chung Opts Out After CNN Change

Connie Chung was supposed to be CNN's biggest news star, not its first war casualty. Last week, Chung bolted from the news network after it tried to maneuver her away from its prized prime time.

Chung opted to exit after network execs told her they wouldn't be bringing back her Connie Chung Tonight, which had been preempted for Iraq war coverage. They offered the ABC and CBS veteran possible anchor duties or a weekend show, but not a coveted spot in weekday prime, insiders said. Chung, who joined the network in January 2002 and debuted her show last June, opted to exit instead.

"We offered her other on-air opportunities and she declined," said a CNN spokesperson.

The news likely brought relief to some CNN staffers, who sniffed at Chung's show as too tabloid for the network's hard news bent. CNN's new chief Jim Walton has shown a preference for hard news.

When Walton was promoted to President of CNN News Group in January, he indicated he'd keep Chung around. "Connie is continuing," he said then. "There is always room for improvement, but we're happy with what the team has done."

Chung has more than a year left on her contract, which is said to pay her about $2 million per year.