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Nightline Abuzz with Change Rumors

ABC's Nightline offices in Washington were buzzing with gossip Thursday on reports in various places that big changes were in the works for the show.

Nightline's fate has been the subject of much speculation inside and outside the network at least since ABC tried unsuccessfully to woo David Letterman to the 11:30 slot back in 2002.

ABC executives are said to be partial to an entertainment show for the slot--ad rates for Leno and Letterman are far better than Nightline's--or perhaps remaking Nightline in an effort to woo the younger audiences that advertisers crave.

This Week executive producer Tom Bettag returned to Nightline as executive producer back in November after the exit of Nightline executive producer Leroy Sievers, who was unable to come to terms on a new contract after taking issue with suggested format and direction changes for the show coming out of New York corporate.

Nightline celebrates its 25th anniversary in March and the betting has been that anchor Ted Koppel could leave the broadcast soon after.

Stories in the New York Post and Baltimore Sun suggesting Nightline changes were being bicycled around the shop.

Among the rumors, all of which seemed to be news to the people who actually work on the show, were that Koppel could switch with This Week host George Stephanopoulos.

That might not be a big surprise. Staffers who worked on This Week when it was hosted by David Brinkley at one time expected Koppel to take over the Sunday show at the end of Brinkley's rein.

Another reported possibility, more ominous to the Washington folk, was a potential move of the Nightline broadcast to New York.

That would jibe with any plans to give the show more of an entertainment feel.