CNN has sought to hose down rumours that it is trying to replace its long-time talk show host Larry King with Piers Morgan, the tabloid journalist and television presenter.
Reports surfaced last week that the struggling cable broadcaster was negotiating with Morgan, who maintains a high public profile as a judge on Britain's Got Talent and NBC's America's Got Talent, as a means of addressing plummeting ratings in its evening line-up.
But a CNN spokesperson yesterday dismissed the reports, saying that there were no plans to bump King, the host of Larry King Live.
"Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of people who would love to succeed Larry King if and when he moves on, but rumors that we are close to signing a deal for a Larry King replacement are untrue.
"We are currently looking at replacing our 8pm program and that is our priority. Larry is a beloved member of the team, and he will continue to be part of the CNN family into the future."
Campbell Brown currently anchors an eponymous programme at 8pm, but will leave when CNN can find a replacement for the slot. She announced last month that she would be leaving the network, owing in large part to poor ratings. CNN has not ruled out the possibility of Morgan being signed to replace Brown.
But some newspapers in Britain and the US have continued to insist that Morgan will replace King, claiming that he is on the verge of signing a deal worth as much as $US15 million ($A17 million) over three years. Morgan himself has remained coy about the speculation, but hinted that a deal of some sort could be imminent.
"I can't actually talk about that yet, but there's a few things going on in America which I'm sure we'll know more about in a while," he said.
Larry King Live debuted in 1985 and has been a long-standing fixture in the 9pm slot. But the show has seen its ratings nosedive, along with the fortunes of the once-powerful news network. The first quarter of 2010 was the worst for Larry King Live on record, dropping 43 per cent year on year.
Morgan made his name as the editor of two of Britain's biggest tabloids, News of the World and the Daily Mirror. In addition to his television appearances on Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent, he was also won the seventh series of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice.
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