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Will Ryan Seacrest Have to Take Pay Cut to Return to 'Idol'?

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- It's possible that Ryan Seacrest's stint as host of American Idol could end after the upcoming season.

His contract with Idol ends this year, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the producers of the Fox competition may not be willing to fork over the requisite ton of cash to keep him.

Under his current deal, Seacrest reportedly has been earning $15 million per year.  A source tells The Hollywood Reporter that producers FremantleMedia and CKx will want him to accept a pay cut during negotiations for a new contract.

The source says, "There's no way Fremantle and CKx will continue to pay Ryan that kind of money when he can be replaced for $2 million to $3 million."

The insider says the companies believe that Idol can remain successful if Seacrest leaves, much as it has since Simon Cowell departed the show in 2010.

On the other hand, Seacrest could make the negotiations difficult for CKx if it does decide it wants him back.

A source says, "It's in Ryan's best interest to make them sweat -- the company has new people running it and has to play the game."

In addition to his Idol duties, Seacrest produces various TV series and is a host on E!  He also reportedly met with NBC last month to discuss a role for him on the Today show, possibly as the eventual successor to Matt Lauer.  The Hollywood Reporter says he is set to occasionally contribute to the Today show in the 9 a.m. hour.  NBCUniversal owns both NBC and E!

Given Seacrest's involvement with NBC, the network may take an interest in his negotiations with Idol's producers.

A source tells The Hollywood Reporter, "NBC would love to get Ryan out of Idol because they have The Voice.  Ryan is using it to renegotiate his deals, and NBC is looking for leverage with Lauer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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