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Network News Pioneer Barbara Walters to Retire From ABC in 2014

Barbara Walters, the first woman to co-anchor a network evening newscast, will retire in 2014 after one more year on ABC News and her talk show, “The View.”

Walters will make the announcement today on “The View,” the daytime program she created in 1997, Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC said on its website. She will report and anchor for the news division and appear on “The View” until next summer.

ABC plans to honor the groundbreaking newscaster with a career retrospective next May. Walters started at NBC’s “Today Show” in 1961 and rose to become co-anchor, with Harry Reasoner, of “ABC Evening News” in 1976. Walters has interviewed every U.S. president and first lady since Richard Nixon, ABC News said.

Walters, 81, is a co-host of “The View,” where she will continue as executive producer. She will anchor ABC News specials over the next 12 months including a “20 Years of 10 Most Fascinating People” special in December and an Oscars special.

The Walters announcement comes as ABC and other networks present their fall prime-time lineups to advertisers this week in New York. ABC releases its schedule this week. NBC said yesterday it will bring back Michael J. Fox in a comedy on Thursday nights.

Walters became nationally known as a television personality on the “Today” show in the 1960s, eventually becoming co-host of the program.

Begin, Sadat

Over the years she interviewed Russia’s Boris Yeltsin, China’s Jiang Zemin, former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, according to her biography. She crossed the Bay of Pigs with Cuba’s Fidel Castro, ABC said.

In 1977, Walters was the first journalist to arrange a joint interview with Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Walter’s 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky, the first one granted to TV by the former Clinton White House intern, remains the highest-rated news program aired by a single network, according to the biography.

She was also the first American journalist to interview Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and scored the first interview with President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In September 2004, after 25 years as co-host and chief correspondent for ABC News’ “20/20,” Walters left the show to focus on “Barbara Walters Specials.”

Disney, based in Burbank, California, gained 0.8 percent to $67.20 on May 10 in New York, an all-time high. The stock has advanced 35 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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