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In the first major shakeup since Ben Sherwood took over as chairman of the Disney-ABC Television Group a year ago, Channing Dungey will take over as president of ABC Entertainment Group, replacing Paul Lee.
Mr. Sherwood said Wednesday that Mr. Lee, who held the role of entertainment president since 2010, would step down from the network. Mr. Lee came to ABC from its sibling ABC Family, now called Freeform. Reports suggested that Mr. Sherwood and Mr. Lee had come to disagree over the direction of the network, although that couldn't be immediately confirmed.
Despite some recent successes like Shonda Rhimes' Thursday night block and the new Sunday night drama "Quantico," ABC is struggling this season, ranking third in total viewers and last in the all-important 18-to-49 demographic. The network took a big bet this season with "The Muppets," which has failed to live up to the hype and hit a record low rating this week.
"Leading ABC has been a fantastic experience," Mr. Lee said in a statement. "I'm especially proud of the incredible team I built and the strategic, creative vision we established and successfully executed for both the network and studio."
Ms. Dungey previously oversaw the development of all drama pilots, movies and miniseries, as well as the launch of new series on the alphabet network. She has been credited with hits like "Scandal," "Quantico" and "How to Get Away With Murder." She will now report directly to Mr. Sherwood.
"Channing is a gifted leader and a proven magnet for top creative talent, with an impressive record of developing compelling, breakthrough programming that resonates with viewers." Mr. Sherwood said in a statement. "We thank Paul for his many accomplishments at ABC and his devotion to the ABC brand, and we wish him continued success in the future."
Ms. Dungey becomes the first black president of a big four broadcaster.
Patrick Martin, exec VP of ABC Studios, will continue to oversee day-to-day operations and report directly to Mr. Sherwood.