General Hospital's renewal was first reported by Deadline.com.
The news ends nearly a year of speculation about GH's future. In April 2011, ABC stunned soap fans by canceling both All My Children and One Life to Live. Both shows were replaced with talk shows, which are less expensive to produce and better able to be monetized with product placements. Several months later, ABC signed television personality Katie Couric to a wide-ranging contract that included the development of a new daytime talk show. Couric's show was given the timeslot currently occupied by General Hospital, and that left GH without a defined timeslot.
At the time, a network spokesperson insisted that Couric's arrival did not mean the end of General Hospital -- but soap fans were understandably doubtful.
"The announcement does not mean the inevitable cancellation of General Hospital," an ABC spokesperson commented. "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."
As recently as late-January, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee stated that he had "not made a decision" about General Hospital's future.
There is still a bit of uncertainty surrounding General Hospital's future. Though the show will continue to air at its current time through September -- The Revolution will go off the air in July and be replaced by an afternoon edition of Good Morning America -- it has not yet been announced what time GH will air when the new fall schedule kicks off. It is expected that GH will air an hour earlier in the timeslot previously occupied by One Life to Live (and subsequently The Revolution) and then serve as a lead-in to Couric's new talk show. Deadline, however, notes that "ABC is not ready to lock in its daytime schedule for next season yet."
With or without an announced timeslot, fans are celebrating that General Hospital will continue production. In January, former One Life to Live executive producer, Frank Valentini, was hired as GH's executive producer. Valentini was given the task of making every dollar of GH's budget last as long as possible, and to boost the show's ratings. He was joined by head writer Ron Carlivati, who served as head writer of OLTL.
Valentini was one of the first to celebrate the news.
"Congratulations to the GH family and all of our tremendous fans," Valentini wrote on Twitter.
The show's stars have also weighed in on social media with their thoughts.
General Hospital debuted on April 1, 1963. The renewal means that show will be on air to mark its 50th anniversary. GH is the longest-running soap currently on the air.