NBC News to Axe Chuck Scarborough and Paul Moyer?

A tipster says a "pervasive rumor" is making the rounds at NBC News that the network is putting long-time local anchors Chuck Scarborough of WNBC and Paul Moyer of KNBC out to pasture.

NBC is said to be buying the news dinosaurs out of their very, very expensive contracts. Scarborough, who just marked his 35th anniversary at WNBC last week, makes a reported $3 million per year.

Moyer is reportedly one of the models for Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character, and Scarborough (pictured above) looks and behaves on the air precisely like Kent Brockman.

It used to be that, in local news at least, the anchor meant everything and was worth outsize salaries some of them have commanded in major markets. If Scarborough and Moyer, both of whom are giants in the business, get axed, it means that "NBC is essentially getting out of the local news business," one NBC source says.

We put in a call to KNBC and WNBC flacks but haven't heard back yet. UPDATE: WNBC spokeswoman Anna Carbonell says "it is not true. He is not being bought out. Chuck is a big part of our station."

NBC News to Axe Chuck Scarborough and Paul Moyer?

Another source says similar moves are underway at all of NBC's stations, which are aggressively cutting costs: "NBC no longer sees the local news business as a star-driven product. It's more of a utility, and they're going to pay accordingly." NBC will start axing sports anchors, who often get paid $500,000 and more to introduce packages from other sports reporters, and doing away with the two-anchor, ethnic-lady-plus-white-man format.

In buying out Scarborough and Moyer, NBC would continue to pay their salaries, but the cost would be moved off of the news budget, a source says. And concocting fake gimmicks to reduce the news budget is all the rage at NBC these days. Expect an uproar from lonely old ladies who are losing their TV boyfriends.