ABC TV Revamps Executive Suite on Eve of Upfront

Lloyd Braun, Susan Lyne Are Out; Anne Sweeney, George Bodenheimer Are In

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NEW YORK ( -- The Walt Disney Co. has announced a series of major management changes at its ABC network on the eve of the start of the broadcast TV upfront.

Lloyd Braun, chairman of the ABC Entertainment Television Group, and Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, have left the company, ABC said last night.

Lags behind NBC, CBS
A former magazine publisher, Ms. Lyne joined ABC two years ago and had been unable to revive the fortunes of the network, which lags behind in fourth place behind NBC, CBS and Fox among advertiser-coveted adult audiences between the ages of 18 and 49. She was not available for comment at press time.

Anne Sweeney, president of ABC Cable Networks Group, was named co-chairman, along with George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, of Disney's Media Networks unit, a division that encompasses the company's broadcast and cable properties.

Mr. Bodenheimer's duties remain the same; Ms. Sweeney essentially replaces Mr. Braun. She retains oversight of the cable group while adding the ABC Television Network, which includes ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News and Touchstone Television, the company's production unit. Both executives report to Bob Iger, Disney's president and chief operating officer.

Improve performance
Ms. Sweeney will be charged with lifting the flagship broadcast network out its current doldrums, and will be assisted by Stephen McPherson, president of Touchstone Television, who was elevated to president of ABC prime-time entertainment. That is a new post that will oversee the network and reports to Ms. Sweeney. According to an ABC spokeswoman, Mr. McPherson will run ABC's upfront presentation to media buyers on May 18 in New York.

Mark Pedowitz, executive vice president of ABC Entertainment, retains that title and adds to it Mr. McPherson's former position as president of Touchstone. He will be responsible for the day-to-day creative and business operations of Touchstone Television among other business, legal and financial affairs. He also will report to Ms. Sweeney.

Alex Wallau
Alex Wallau, president ABC Television Networks, was named president of ABC Network Operations and Administration, a role that will include oversight for news, broadcast operations and engineering, ad sales, affiliate relations and the integration of ABC Sports with ABC TV network. Brian Frons will remain president of ABC Daytime. Both will report to Ms. Sweeney.

The ABC spokeswoman said Mike Shaw remains as president of sales and marketing for the ABC Television Networks, reporting to Mr. Wallau.

In addition, Rich Ross was promoted to president of the Disney Channel worldwide. He will manage the basic cable channels for children and families, Disney Channel and Toon Disney in the U.S. and 22 international Disney Channels and various programming blocks around the world. He was president of the Disney Channel. Paul Lee, CEO of BBC America, was hired as president of the cable network ABC Family.

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