Disney Shakes Up International Distribution

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Disney announced the formation of a new global distribution arm for movies, television shows and children’s programs, among other content.

The entertainment giant will consolidate several divisions within Disney-ABC Worldwide Television and Walt Disney Studios in an effort to streamline distribution to cable, satellite, broadband and mobile platforms.

The announcement follows the resignation of Laurie Younger, president of Disney-ABC Worldwide Television, who will retire at the end of her contract in January 2008.

Ben Pyne, president of Disney and ESPN Networks affiliate sales and marketing, was picked to lead the new group and will report to Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, and Alan Bergman, president of The Walt Disney Studios.

For domestic responsibilities concerning ESPN, Pyne will continue reporting to Sean Bratches, executive vice president of sales and marketing, ESPN and ABC Sports. He will also work closely with Andy Bird, president of Walt Disney International.

In addition, David Preschlack was promoted to executive VP, Disney and ESPN Networks affiliate sales and marketing. He will continue reporting to Pyne and will work closely with Bratches on all ESPN-related affiliate matters.

As president of global distribution, Disney-ABC Worldwide Television and Disney Media Networks, Pyne will assume chief responsibility for the international distribution and sales of Disney’s portfolio of entertainment and news content. That includes all feature films, TV series, children’s programming, made-for-TV movies, miniseries, news documentaries, TV animation and direct-to video content -- as well as their distribution to all platforms. He will also oversee domestic distribution of television content handled by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, as well as lead ABC Television Network’s affiliate relations department.

Formerly senior VP of Disney and ESPN affiliate sales and marketing, Preschlack will oversee Pyne’s previous areas of responsibility, including direction of all affiliate distribution, affiliate relations, affiliate marketing and local ad sales for the company’s U.S. cable and satellite networks. He will also oversee U.S. distribution of related HDTV, broadband, video-on-demand, subscription-VOD, interactive-TV, pay-per-view, Spanish-language and sports-syndication products.

The move echoes Disney’s approach in the United States, which aligned ABC, ESPN and Disney Channel under one affiliate marketing group.

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