Heads Roll At ABC As Disney Acts to Boost Stagnant Ratings

21 April 2004

A shakeup at Walt Disney Company-owned ABC Entertainment Television had long been expected, given its parlous ratings performance -- fourth among the big four US networks.

With the revelation of the ailing broadcaster's new fall schedule due in just a few weeks, on Tuesday the Eisner axmen finally made their expected move.

Out goes ABC chairman Lloyd Braun, a departure accompanied by nary a raised eyebrow. But superciliaries soared when it emerged that ABC president Susan Lyne had also been bundled through the fire exit.

Braun's imminent departure had been public knowledge over the past few weeks. Lyne, on the other hand, had been expected to survive as an icon of stability, in deference to ABC's television partners and advertisers.

Braun has not been directly replaced. Instead his duties are shared between two co-chairmen: Anne Sweeney, president of ABC Cable Networks, assumes a greater role at ABC, becoming co-chair of the Media Networks Unit, accompanied by ESPN president George Bodenheimer.

While the latest occupant of Lyne's presidential hotseat is Steve McPherson, former prez of Touchstone Television, Disney's TV production unit.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff