Sweeney, Bodenheimer to Head New Disney Unit

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Anne Sweeney and George Bodenheimer, two rising cable stars at The Walt Disney Co., were put in charge of the company’s TV networks Tuesday as part of a sweeping management reorganization meant to revive the flagging ABC broadcast network.

Sweeney, president of the ABC Cable Networks Group, and Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, were promoted and named co-chairs of a newly formed Disney division, the Media Networks Unit. Sweeney will also hold the title of president of Disney ABC Television.

Sweeney will add the ABC Television Network -- which includes ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News and Touchstone Television -- to her portfolio.

Bodenheimer will remain head of ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports.

Both Sweeney and Bodenheimer will continue to report to Disney president and chief operating officer Robert Iger.

"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 primetime," Sweeney said in a prepared statement.

In addition Paul Lee, CEO of BBC America, was named president of ABC Family, filling the slot left vacant when Angela Shapiro left last year in a tiff when the network was put under Sweeney’s wing. When rumors surfaced a few weeks ago that Lee was going to ABC Family, officials at BBC America denied that he was leaving.

In the broad Disney management restructuring, Steve McPherson, president of Disney’s Touchstone Television, was named president of ABC Prime Time Entertainment.

Rich Ross, currently Disney Channel president of entertainment, was named president of Disney Channel Worldwide, a post Sweeney previously held. Ross will be responsible for the management of Disney Channel, Toon Disney and the company’s international networks.

Mark Pedowitz was named president of Touchstone and executive vice president of the ABC Entertainment Group.

Ross, Lee, McPherson and Pedowitz all report to Sweeney.

The big surprise Tuesday was news that Susan Lyne -- president of ABC Entertainment Television and considered one of ABC’s savviest programmers -- was leaving the network in the aftermath of the reshuffling. As expected, Lloyd Braun, chairman of the ABC Entertainment Television Group, has also left.

Alex Wallau was named president of ABC Network Operations and Administration, a role that will include oversight of news, ad sales, affiliate relations and the integration of ABC Sports with the ABC TV network. He will also report to Sweeney.

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