In Depth

ABC Entertainment, Studios Merging

ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios are merging into a single unit to be headed by Steve McPherson.

Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, announced the expected decision Thursday morning at a meeting of ABC and ABC Studios employees.

Mr. McPherson, who had been head of the network as president of ABC Entertainment, will become president of the newly titled ABC Entertainment Group. Mark Pedowitz, who has a successful four-year run as head of ABC Studios, now will serve as a senior adviser to Ms. Sweeney, where he will help her on a broad range of business, emerging media and labor issues.

“The landscape of our business, and an opportunity to coalesce the creative process dictated this change in structure," Ms. Sweeney said. "By operating these units in a coordinated fashion, we’ll be able to present the industry with a unified, cohesive creative vision for ABC programming, which will serve us well as we move forward.”

Ms. Sweeney praised both Mr. McPherson and Mr. Pedowitz.

“Thanks to the quality of leadership and professional excellence exhibited by both Steve and Mark, we are able to implement this change and ensure that a smooth integration occurs," she said. "Mark’s years of experience on both the business and creative sides of the equation make him the perfect person to have in a key advisory position, especially with the multitude and complexity of the issues facing our industry today. And there is no one more passionate about the creative process, with as much proven business acumen, as Steve. This combination is why I’m so excited about this new management structure, and what it means for the future of the Disney-ABC Television Group.”

ABC said the new group's "primary mandate will be to develop and produce compelling programming for broadcast on ABC. However, when appropriate, the studio will look for outside opportunities."

In other words, ABC still will use its roster to develop programming for outside networks, but that won't be its chief goal.

Ms. Sweeney did not comment on the possibility of layoffs in connection to the merger. However, ABC, like most of the networks, has been studying possible workforce reductions for several months now. And because certain departments within the studio and network operations are duplicative, it's hard to imagine there won't be at least some job cuts in connection with the move.

NBC recently decided to consolidate its studio and network operations under Angela Bromstad.

(Editor: Baumann)
(3:30 p.m.: Added final two paragraphs)