Atlanta -- In a multimillion-dollar deal, Larry King has
renewed his contract with Cable News Network for the next five years, officials said last
King, who joined CNN in 1985, will reportedly be making
roughly $7 million per year, including salary, a signing bonus and stock options in CNN
parent Time Warner Inc. The package puts King at a par with broadcast-network news talent
such as ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Tom Brokaw.
Larry King Live has consistently been CNN's
highest-rated program and cable's highest-rated talk show since its debut. The
show's ratings in the first quarter were up 20 percent from 1997 levels, and they
were the highest for the show since first-quarter 1995.
"For many people all around the world, Larry King and
CNN are synonymous," CNN News Group chairman Tom Johnson said in a prepared
statement. "No one but Larry has the ability to conduct a news-making interview with
a head of state one night, talk to the hottest Hollywood celebrity the next, and then hold
court with the latest sports phenomenon on the third."
The new contract will pay King about double what he got
under his former agreement, which would have expired next May.