ABC's 'News': Lone sponsor for 4 editions

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NEW YORK -- ABC's "World News With Charles Gibson" will have a single sponsor four times in April, which will limit commercial interruptions and give the newscast five extra minutes that it will use for a series featuring globe-trotting correspondent Bill Weir.

The single-sponsor newscasts will run April 2, 9 and 16 for an as-yet undisclosed sponsor as well as April 23, when CVS will sponsor the newscast. Weir's series, called "Key to the World," will begin April 2, when he travels to the Pacific Ocean nation of Kiribati. Rising ocean levels might force many of its residents to flee the 33-island chain. Weir's April 9 report will be from Zambia, where the developing African nation is combating infant and maternal mortality.

"World News" isn't the first newscast to have a single sponsor for the 30-minute program. Philips Electronics for one night in December was the single sponsor of "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams," a move that boosted ratings as well as cut commercial time from seven minutes to a shade over one minute. Carat North America, the ad agency that bought the time on "World News" for three nights, declined to disclose the name of the sponsor until the ads run April 2.

Meanwhile, ABC News announced that political director Mark Halperin will step down from his post after a decade to give him more time to write a book and maybe work for a publication. He will become a political analyst for ABC News through the 2008 elections.

"We all know how valuable a member of our political reporting team Mark is, and he made it clear that he has an equally high opinion of ABC News and what we're trying to accomplish," ABC News president David Westin said Wednesday via e-mail.

Halperin, who co-wrote "The Way to Win" with John Harris, will be replaced by David Chalian. Chalian has been with ABC News since 2003 after moving over from NY1, the Time Warner Cable-owned regional news channel.
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