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While ABC stopped short of canceling the series, it announced it would be giving the soap’s 3 p.m. time slot on several stations to Couric’s new entry beginning in September 2012.
Given the fury the network’s decision to ax All My Children and One Live to Live set off earlier this year, ABC executives were careful to specify in its release that “the network is set to return the last hour of its daytime network block to affiliates no earlier than September 2012 but continues to support General Hospital.
In a follow-up note to the Hollywood Reporter, an ABC spokesperson said, “The announcement does not mean the inevitable cancellation of General Hospital. Rather, it means that in September 2012, we will program our daytime block with our three strongest shows.”
The network is likening its programming strategy here to that of primetime, where shows are picked up without slots to fill. “We are simply giving ourselves options for the future, which is a smart way to do business,” the spokesperson added. “The best way to ensure a favorite show stays on the air is to watch it.”
To be sure, ABC has more than a year until it has to make a decision on what to scrap to make room on its daytime schedule. Several sources suggest that ABC brass and its station owners are banking on one of the two new entries, the Mario Batali cooking show The Chew (launching in September) and Tim Gunn-lead lifestyle show The Revolution (launching in January 2012), to flop, allowing General Hospital to move into its place on ABC’s grid. But given the growing competition and the network’s willingness to pull the plug on other offerings in the genre, it would be naive to assume General Hospital is 100 percent safe.
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