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Rather to Relinquish CBS Anchor Post in March

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NEW YORK CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather will step down as anchor and managing editor of the news program on March 9, 2005, 24 years after his first broadcast in that post, the network said.

Rather, 73, will continue to work full-time as a CBS News correspondent for both editions of 60 Minutes, as well as on other assignments.

"I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News," Rather said. "Along the way, I've had the honor of working with some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the world, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to continue to do so in the years ahead."

CBS Evening News has been wallowing in third place among the Big Three broadcast network evening news telecasts, averaging nearly 2.5 million viewers less than No.1-ranked NBC and more than 1.5 million viewers less than ABC's nightly news telecast.

The front-runner to replace Rather is John Roberts, CBS chief White House correspondent, who has also anchored the weekend edition of CBS Evening News.

CBS began to discuss with Rather when he would step down from the Evening News anchor chair "in earnest this summer, and we decided that the close of the election cycle would be an appropriate time," Rather said.

CBS chairman and Viacom co-president and co-COO Leslie Moonves noted that Rather's 24 years as anchor at CBS Evening News was "the longest run of any evening news anchor in history" and said it is "a singular achievement in broadcast journalism."

Tom Brokaw, long-time anchor of the NBC Nightly News telecast, is stepping down Dec. 1; Brian Williams has already been announced as his successor.