PALM BEACH, Florida: The Walt Disney Company is set to merge its broadcast network ABC and television production operations ABC Studios, as it seeks to consolidate operations and cut costs.

Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney–ABC Television Group, said the need for merger was driven by the changing media environment.

"The landscape of our business and an opportunity to coalesce the creative process dictated this change in structure. 

"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."

Disney is attempting to make savings across its operations, and last week proposed a buyout of some 600 executives in its theme parks and resorts.

ABC's primetime audience has also fallen by 9.4% in the latest season (including DVR playback), and Bernstein Research estimates the four biggest US broadcast networks will see an adspend decline of 3% over the course of 2009.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff