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‘General Hospital’ fans worried about fate of show

Tracy Quartermaine Spencer (Jane Elliot) confronts her husbLuke (Anthony Geary) recent “General Hospital” episode.

Tracy Quartermaine Spencer (Jane Elliot) confronts her husband, Luke (Anthony Geary), on a recent “General Hospital” episode.

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Updated: August 3, 2011 4:35PM

With Katie Couric set to launch an afternoon talk show on ABC, fans of “General Hospital” are left wondering about the fate of the network’s long-running soap opera.

While ABC stopped short of canceling the series, it announced it would be giving the 3 p.m. time slot on several stations, including Chicago’s WLS-Channel 7, to Couric’s new entry beginning in September 2012. On some stations, that’s when “General Hospital” airs.

Given the fury set off by the network’s decision to ax “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” earlier this year, executives were careful to specify in their announcement that ABC “continues to support ‘General Hospital.’ ”

WLS-Channel 7 airs the soap at 2 p.m. The 3 o’clock hour is occupied by “Inside Edition” and “Jeopardy!” and a station spokeswoman said places on the schedule will be found for both shows.

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 two new entries, the Mario Batali cooking show “The Chew” (launching in September) and Tim Gunn’s lifestyle show “The Revolution” (launching in January), to flop, allowing “General Hospital” to move into its place.

“The announcement does not mean the inevitable cancellation of ‘General Hospi-tal,’ ” an ABC spokesperson said. “Rather, it means that in September 2012, we will program our daytime block with our three strongest shows.”

The network is likening its strategy here to that of prime time, where shows are picked up before their time slots are certain. “The best way to ensure a favorite show stays on the air is to watch it,” the spokesperson added.

Hollywood Reporter

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