The Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner said Tuesday that the company
is planning to restructure to run similar lines of business on the cable and
broadcast sides as single operations.
For example, he said at the Goldman Sachs & Co. Communacopia XI Conference Tuesday in
New York, ABC Daytime and SoapNet will be run together; ABC Family will be
operated by ABC prime time management; and ABC Sports by ESPN.
Perhaps having already seen the latest Nielsen Media Research numbers that
had ABC's premiere week down in numerous categories, Eisner identified ESPN and
Disney as the company's core brands going forward.
He also effectively hung a 'for-sale' sign on Disney's two sports teams in Anaheim, Calif. (Major League Baseball's
Angels and the National Hockey League's Mighty Ducks).
And if somebody makes him the right offer on radio, he suggested that he
would sell that, too.
Confirming that the company is in talks with AOL Time Warner Inc. about
merging ABC News with Cable News Network, Eisner said, 'We'd be thrilled if it happened.' Such
a move would certainly fit with Disney's 'new horizontal strategy.'
Also speaking at the conference, both Viacom Inc.'s Mel
Karmazin and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch said ad sales across their respective
TV businesses are strong and thriving and fourth-quarter sales are pacing
double-digits ahead of last year.
Said Karmazin: 'There is extraordinarily strong advertising demand right now'
across all of the sectors.
Murdoch seconded that.