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Katie Couric Clause


The “Katie Couric Clause” is a colloquial term referring to a provision that is sometimes included in contracts of high-profile media personalities. It allows these individuals to leave their current employment if their show or position is not performing well in the ratings or meeting certain success metrics. The clause earned its nickname due to television journalist Katie Couric’s use of this contractual clause when she left her position as anchor on the CBS Evening News.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Katie Couric Clause” is:ˈkeɪti ˈkʊrɪk klɔz’Katie”: /ˈkeɪti/’Couric”: /ˈkʊrɪk/’Clause”: /klɔz/

Key Takeaways

  1. The Katie Couric Clause is a provision in a television news anchor’s contract that grants them the ability to leave their network in case of a dismissal.
  2. It is named after Katie Couric due to her departure from CBS Evening News in 2011, and subsequent dismissal from the network.
  3. It acts as a safeguard for high-profile television journalists, ensuring they have an exit strategy and flexibility in their careers.


The Katie Couric Clause, also known as the “key person clause,” is an important business/finance term as it highlights the significance of a critical individual or talent in a company or project. Often included in contracts, this clause gives the organization or the other party the option to terminate or modify the agreement if the vital person involved is no longer associated with the project. In essence, the Katie Couric Clause acknowledges the value of that individual’s contributions, abilities, or reputation to the overall success of the venture, and it mitigates risk by allowing parties to adjust the terms or end the contract if that person’s involvement or influence is no longer present.


The Katie Couric Clause primarily serves to protect the interests of a company and its shareholders in situations where an organization’s star employee, who significantly contributes to its success, chooses to leave or is no longer associated with the company. Named after the famous television personality, Katie Couric, this contractual provision reduces the risk involved in having a prominent figure as the face of the company. This clause attempts to mitigate any potential financial or reputational losses and cushions the impact on the overall business.

In practice, the Katie Couric Clause is employed in contracts as a preventative measure that safeguards companies in the event of a high-profile employee’s departure. Under this clause, the employee’s compensation may be tied to their continued presence and success in the company. Moreover, the company may negotiate a non-compete agreement to restrict the employee from joining competitors or contractual obligations limiting the employee’s ability to solicit clients or customers if they change employers. Consequently, such contractual provisions help maintain stability and confidence among shareholders and stakeholders in the organization, eventually ensuring the company’s sustainability and continued growth.


The “Katie Couric Clause” refers to a provision in an employment contract, particularly for high-profile employees, which guarantees a certain level of compensation or benefits. The clause typically allows them to leave or renegotiate their contract if their program or work situation changes significantly or fails to reach their performance expectations. Here are three real-world examples:

1. Katie Couric: The term originated from the TV news anchor, Katie Couric. When she joined CBS News as an anchor and managing editor in 2006, her contract reportedly contained a clause stating that if CBS Evening News did not garner a particular rating or position in the market, she could renegotiate her contract or leave the network. This example set the stage for similar clauses in contracts within the media industry.

2. Conan O’Brien: In 2009, as part of negotiations for his move to “The Tonight Show,” Conan O’Brien reportedly included a similar clause in his contract with NBC. The clause allowed him to leave or renegotiate his contract in case the network failed to meet specific viewership or market position expectations. Ultimately, when Jay Leno’s show struggled in the prime time slot and NBC decided to move it back to late-night, O’Brien invoked this clause and left “The Tonight Show” to pursue other opportunities.

3. Ann Curry: In 2011, Ann Curry was promoted from newsreader to co-anchor on NBC’s “Today” show. According to reports, Curry signed a multi-year contract that included a Katie Couric-like clause. This clause allowed her to renegotiate her contract or leave the network if “Today” was not the top-rated morning news program. When her tenure as co-host was deemed unsuccessful and she was replaced by Savannah Guthrie, Curry was still able to negotiate a settlement with NBC, which included transitioning to a new role as a foreign correspondent and the network fulfilling their financial obligations from her contract.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Katie Couric Clause?

The Katie Couric Clause refers to a specific contractual provision in an employment contract for high-profile talents or employees, which allows them to exit the contract early if their job role or position within the company is changed or diminished. This clause gained popularity after the American television personality Katie Couric included it in her contract with CBS News in 2006.

Why do employees opt for the Katie Couric Clause in their contracts?

Employees, particularly high-profile talents or executives, may opt for the Katie Couric Clause in their contracts to protect their professional reputation, ensure their job responsibilities align with their career goals, and maintain control over their roles within the company.

How does the Katie Couric Clause benefit both the employee and the employer?

For the employee, the clause offers job security and flexibility to leave if their role is changed or reduced without adequate justification. For the employer, it can serve as an incentive to entice top talents to join the company by offering them more control and autonomy in their roles.

Can any employee request a Katie Couric Clause?

While any employee may request the Katie Couric Clause in their contract, it is primarily beneficial for high-profile individuals or those with significant influence and bargaining power. Employers may be less inclined to include such a clause for employees with lower visibility or positions with less impact on the company’s overall success.

How does the Katie Couric Clause influence the employer-employee relationship?

Including a Katie Couric Clause in an employment contract can demonstrate trust and respect between employee and employer, allowing both parties to address concerns proactively. Additionally, it ensures that the employee’s role and expectations are clearly outlined and agreed upon, fostering clear communication and managing expectations on both sides.

Related Finance Terms

  • Non-compete agreement
  • Employment contract
  • Talent poaching
  • Exclusivity clause
  • Contract negotiations

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