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Katie Couric moves to ABC

By Alan Duke, CNN
  • NEW: Couric show "absolutely could mean" time change for "General Hospital"
  • Couric's syndicated ABC show premieres in September 2012
  • The former CBS anchor will contribute to all ABC's news platforms, the network says
  • The as-yet unnamed news show will air at 3 p.m. in many markets, ABC says

(CNN) -- Katie Couric will host a syndicated daytime talk show for ABC and contribute to the network's news programming, ABC said Monday.

The announcement came just hours before Scott Pelley was set to debut as Couric's replacement in the CBS Evening News anchor chair.

"I'm very happy to be returning to the network where I began my career as a desk assistant in 1979," Couric, 54, said in a written statement released Monday.

Jeff Zucker, who produced NBC's "Today Show" when Couric was the host, will be her talk show's executive producer, ABC said.

The yet-to-be-named show will premiere in September 2012, airing at 3 p.m. in at least eight markets where there are ABC-owned TV stations, the network said. The markets already clearing that time slot include New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Houston; Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina; and Fresno, California, it said.

ABC's "General Hospital" currently occupies the 3 p.m. hour on the East Coast, but the network said in its release it "continues to support" the long-running soap. But with stations representing nearly 23% of the nation's TV households already choosing to replace it with Couric, CNN asked Disney-ABC Television spokesman Kevin Brockman if the soap could survive with just a time change.

"Absolutely could mean that," said. "As you'll note, we went out of our way to state that we continue to support the show. We have a long time between now and fall of 2012, so fans should be encouraged to continue watching and supporting."

Couric's role on the ABC news team will include "contributing to all programs and platforms," the network said.

"It is tremendously exciting to have the creative freedom to develop my own show with Anne Sweeney, the Disney/ABC TV Group and Jeff, and to contribute to such a vibrant, innovative news division," Couric said.

"Katie Couric is one of television's iconic figures and we are thrilled to have forged such an exciting partnership with her," Sweeney said. "We look forward to having Katie join the best news team in the business, and to working with her to create a dynamic and successful talk show franchise."

CNN's Rachel Wells contributed to this report.