Disney Expands European Content Production

25 March 2008

LONDON: The Walt Disney Company has unveiled a new management structure at its European programming hub, established in London just ten months ago.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Disney Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney, who doubles as president of Disney-ABC Television Group, said that "locally produced" [European] shows will play a growing role within the group. 

She is candid that the 'Europeanization' of Disney's production programme is, in part at least, driven by a desire to emasculate the negotiating power of Hollywood writers.

The scribes' prolonged strike at the end of last year had, Sweeney admitted, "put a bright spotlight on international production".

She also announced the elevation of four European executives to new senior content distribution roles.

The quartet is charged with marketing Disney content to European broadcasters and new media platforms – an attempt to fill the vacuum in childrens' programming left by major broadcasters such as ITV as they quit kids' content production.

Future Disney European production plans include an animated, and updated, version of Enid Blyton's [now derided] Famous Five children's adventure novels, written in the 1940s.

Says Sweeney: "We see the international piece of the pie growing, and as we increase our investment in original programming it will accelerate because when you produce locally it becomes more relevant."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff