ABC Family Now Under Sweeney’s Wing - Broadcasting & Cable

ABC Family Now Under Sweeney’s Wing

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The Walt Disney Co. has given ABC Cable Networks chief Anne Sweeney another major piece of real estate to develop, moving all aspects of ABC Family Channel under her purview.

The move means ABC Family president Angela Shapiro, who had reported to Disney president Robert Iger, now reports to Sweeney.

Under the previous arrangement, Sweeney's cable group has been tasked with affiliate sales and marketing for ABC Family and programmed its kids’ block. But other areas -- including programming, marketing and ad sales -- came under Shapiro, former head of ABC's daytime.

Given the new arrangement, it is unclear if Shapiro, who joined ABC Family in April 2002, will stay on. But a network spokesperson said Shapiro "continues as the president of ABC Family with the complete support of the company."

Since Disney acquired ABC Family for $5.2 billion two years ago, the network has failed to get much traction. Prime-time ratings were off 12% in the third quarter. And despite some attempts at original programming -- including reality shows from Michael Davies and Bruce Nash and another starring Sabrina the Teenage Witch
star Melissa Joan Hart -- nothing has popped in prime time.

Sweeney's other charges include the booming Disney Channel and SoapNet. Disney's ESPN and its sports channels are a separate business.

It remains to be seen what magic Sweeney will try on ABC Family. But the company is trying to downplay her elevation. "This was simply an internal organizational decision to integrate a single cable entity into a larger cable family," the spokesperson said.

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