BURBANK, Calif., April 20, 2004 – In a restructuring of The Walt Disney Company’s television assets, Anne Sweeney and George Bodenheimer have been named co-chairs of Disney’s Media Networks unit, Disney President and COO Robert Iger announced today. Sweeney will be adding the ABC Television Network, which includes ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News and Touchstone Television to her portfolio of responsibilities, while Bodenheimer will remain head of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports, and both will continue to report to Iger.
Sweeney will retain all of her current areas with day-to-day responsibility for Disney Channel Worldwide to be handled by Rich Ross, who assumes the title today. Paul Lee joins the company as president of ABC Family. Both executives will report to Sweeney.
In announcing Sweeney’s promotion, Iger said: “Anne is recognized throughout the entertainment industry as one of the most strategic, forward-thinking and creative executives in the business today. At ABC Cable Networks Group, her impressive business acumen and track-record, particularly in growing Disney Channel from a modest pay channel into a basic cable service with more than 84 million subscribers, have proven her strength as a long-term strategist with a focus on quality programming and financial performance. We are confident that Anne’s outstanding creativity, management style and leadership abilities will be invaluable to the ABC Television Network.”
“Under this new structure, the combined strength of the creative content and resources in both cable and broadcast television will allow Disney to build on its reputation as a leading provider of world-class, high quality entertainment, news and sports programming,” Sweeney said. “The ABC Television Network is an incredibly important and valuable asset for Disney and is a leader in daytime entertainment, sports and news programming, and I look forward to working with the great team there as we return ABC to its leadership position in prime time.”
As part of the restructuring, Stephen McPherson, currently president of Touchstone Television, has been named president, ABC Primetime Entertainment and is responsible for prime time entertainment programming. Mark Pedowitz was named president, Touchstone Television and executive vice president, ABC Entertainment Television Group. McPherson and Pedowitz will report to Sweeney.
In the new structure, Alex Wallau was named president, ABC Network Operations and Administration, a role that will include oversight for news, BO&E, ad sales, affiliate relations and the integration of ABC Sports with the ABC TV Network. Brian Frons will remain president of ABC Daytime. Both will report to Sweeney.
Lloyd Braun, chairman, ABC Entertainment Television Group, and Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment Television, have left the company and are pursuing other interests.
Sweeney was named president of the ABC Cable Networks Group and president of Disney Channel Worldwide in 1998 after serving as president, Disney Channel, and executive vice president, Disney/ABC Cable Networks since February 1996. As president of Disney Channel, Sweeney headed one of the fastest growing networks in cable, the only full-time general entertainment television network designed for kids and families.
Under her leadership, Disney Channel grew its subscriber base from 14 million to more than 84 million homes with its mix of kid and family entertainment. In April 1998, Sweeney oversaw the successful launch of the all-animation channel Toon Disney, and in January 2000 she oversaw the launch of SOAPnet.
Sweeney joined the company from FX Networks, Inc. where she had been chairman and chief executive officer since 1993. During her tenure at FX, Sweeney presided over the launch of two basic cable networks: FX, an entertainment network representing the most successful basic cable launch in history; and FXM: Movies from Fox, Hollywood’s first studio-based movie network. Prior to joining Fox in 1993, Sweeney spent 12 years at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite in a variety of positions including the international expansion of Nickelodeon in the United Kingdom, resulting in a joint venture with British Sky Broadcasting.
Sweeney is a member of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics International. She received a B.A. degree from The College of New Rochelle and an Ed.M. degree from Harvard University.
Sweeney and her husband, Philip Miller, an attorney, and their two children reside in Los Angeles.