Is ABC Undergoing a Brain Drain?


ABC News has lost a number of on air talent over the past year. 

Some that left might have actually been a blessing for ABC News to lose them. But others have been a hit to the network.

The NY Daily News writes that the sudden departure of Sam Champion from “Good Morning America” (FIRST reported by FTVLive) caught viewers by surprise last week and has industry insiders buzzing about a growing “brain drain” at ABC News.

In less than a year, there have been several other high-profile departures from the network, including Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo and “Nightline” correspondent Bill Weir.

“It’s curious,” said an agent who represents news personalities now working at ABC. “It’s not quite troubling yet, but it has caught our attention.

Tapper, Cuomo and Weir left their jobs at ABC for larger roles at CNN, while Champion has taken the title of managing editor at the NBC-owned Weather Channel and is expected to put in appearances on “GMA” arch-rival “Today” and other NBC News programs like “Nightly News.”

There also has been buzz that ABC brass is elbow-deep in talks to keep other “GMA” talent, including George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer and Josh Elliott.

And while “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer, 67, has not made any noise about stepping down, there has been quiet talk about Stephanopoulos pushing for the anchor desk when she does. But well-placed network insiders insist there is no danger of losing anyone else from the top-rated morning show anytime soon.

An ABC News rep said the network does not comment on contractual matters.

There is no overall reason for the departures, sources said, such as any large budget cuts or major management changes.

“Yes, lots of people left,” an ABC source said.

“That doesn’t mean that the network was in any shape or form trying to keep them,” an industry source said.

Another source notes that in the last two years, ABC has lured its own share of high-profile talent from rivals, including Amy Robach (NBC), Byron Pitts (CBS) and Dan Abrams (NBC).

The news division is also enjoying some of its best performances ever, most prominently with “GMA” snapping a16-year ratings win by “Today.”

“Based upon the record-breaking success of ABC News programs in the last year, we have certainly gained a lot more than we have lost,” a network insider said.