ABC Reorganizes Program and Production Divisions

Entertainment President Stephen McPherson to Lead New Combined Unit

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ABC is reorganizing its entertainment operations, combining the unit that oversees production of programs with the network unit that manages shows once they are on the air.

Stephen McPherson
Stephen McPherson Credit: ABC
The Walt Disney TV network said operations of its ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment divisions would be combined and led by Stephen McPherson, currently head of ABC Entertainment. The head of ABC Studios, Mark Pedowitz, is moving into what ABC said was a "new role as senior adviser to the office of the co-chairman," where he will work with Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney-Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group "on a myriad of evolving business, labor-relations and emerging-media issues."

Nets respond to new technology
ABC's move highlights how the big broadcast networks are trying to change their internal processes as their business comes under economic pressures and new technology causes slips in ratings and gives rise to competing digital-media venues. The networks still purchase shows from outside studios, but producing more programs under their own umbrellas allows them to capture additional revenue when it comes to selling the shows into syndication, on DVDs and through ancillary venues such as digital distribution.

ABC's decision to streamline its entertainment units comes a few weeks after NBC Universal charted a similar course in early December. At the time, NBC said it was combining its studio and network-programming division as part of an effort to "right-size and realign our organization" and "eliminate layers of bureaucracy" facing show-runners, writers and directors.

Job losses at NBC
NBC Universal made its decision as the company was in the midst of laying off about 500 employees to prepare for a difficult 2009. Some high-ranking entertainment executives also left NBC in its restructuring.

A spokesman for ABC was not immediately available to comment on whether its restructuring would result in any lost jobs. ABC's parent company, Walt Disney, recently offered buyouts to hundreds of executives at its U.S resorts division, and analysts have speculated that the company could seek work-force reductions elsewhere.

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