The host, 65, announces he will end his quarter century on the ABC program this December

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 31, 2005 12:00 PM

Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, who has hosted the late-night ABC News program since it began in 1980, announced on Thursday that he will pack it in once his contract expires this December.

“Ted and I have discussed a number of options under which he might have remained at Nightline or in some other capacity at ABC News, but Ted believes this is the right time for him to leave,” ABC News President David Westin said, according to the Associated Press.

Westin gave the impression that Nightline would continue, even without Koppel, who is now 65.

Still, the Walt Disney Company (which bought ABC in 1996) made headlines and sparked protests when word leaked out that Disney chief Michael Eisner wished to woo David Letterman away from CBS and give him Koppel’s timeslot. Even Letterman joined the protests, and Koppel and Nightline have remained a potent force in late-night news dissemination.