In announcing the signing of Kate Couric to a new talk show earlier this year, ABC also made the secondary announcement that it would be giving an hour of its daytime lineup back to local affiliates. While it wasn't immediately clear what that would mean for General Hospital, a disturbing new scenario has emerged due to the actions of one of ABC's affiliates.
Orlando's ABC station, WFTV, has announced that it will begin airing comedian Steve Harvey's new talk show in General Hospital's timeslot beginning in the fall of 2012. In Orlando, Katie Couric's talk show, Katie, will be airing on a non-ABC channel.
Katie will air in the 3:00pm timeslot in most markets -- the current hour-long spot occupied by General Hospital. While ABC did not confirm that General Hospital would go off the air in September 2012, many soap fans have felt that the writing is on the wall.
"The announcement does not mean the inevitable cancellation of General Hospital," an ABC spokesperson commented in June. "Rather it means that in September 2012, we will program our daytime block with our three strongest shows. We'll have options for the daytime daypart just like we do each year with primetime. We believe in all of our shows and the ones that our viewers want will be the ones that continue. There are many options that could happen... only time will tell."
One of those options would be to move General Hospital to another time, but ABC's network-mandated portion of the day is already filled. The network has four hours of programming, and five shows -- GH, Katie, The View, The Chew, and The Revolution, a show slated to replace One Life to Live in January -- and only four hours to fit those shows.
Another option involves shrinking one or more of the programs from one hour to 30 minutes.
A third option, as previously mentioned, could involve canceling one of ABC's other programs and moving General Hospital into that show's time period.
Of course, General Hospital could also be squeezed off the network entirely.
An official announcement regarding General Hospital's future is not expected until early 2012.