The Walt Disney Company Announces Formation Of Integrated Global Television Distribution Division
he Walt Disney Company today announced the formation of an integrated Global Television Distribution unit, following the announcement that Laurie Younger, President, Disney-ABC Worldwide Television, will retire at the end of her contract in January 2008. Through that date Ms. Younger will assist in transitioning to the new structure and will be available to provide counsel to the management team.
In commenting on Ms. Younger’s decision to retire, Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks & President, Disney-ABC Television Group, and Dick Cook, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios, stated: “For the past two decades, Laurie has worked tirelessly on behalf of The Walt Disney Company, and, while it pains us to see her go, we applaud her decision and wish her all the best going forward.”
Ms. Younger added: “This decision was not arrived at lightly, nor is it one that comes without some real sadness regarding the amazing people I’m leaving behind. For 20-plus years, I have had the privilege of touching every aspect of the television business, and now seems the appropriate time to start the next chapter and explore some new avenues.”
The new unit will combine several existing distribution-focused departments under the leadership of Ben Pyne, who has been named President, Global Distribution, Disney-ABC Worldwide Television & Disney Media Networks, reporting to Ms. Sweeney and Alan Bergman, President, The Walt Disney Studios. For domestic responsibilities concerning ESPN, Mr. Pyne will continue reporting to Sean Bratches, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, ESPN and ABC Sports. He will also work closely with Andy Bird, President, Walt Disney International. The appointment is effective immediately.
In this new role, Mr. Pyne, who formerly served as President, Disney & ESPN Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing, will assume chief responsibility for the International distribution and sales of the far-reaching portfolio of entertainment and news content produced by The Walt Disney Company. This includes all feature films, television series, kids’ programming, made-for-TV movies, miniseries, News documentaries, TV animation and direct-to video content – and their distribution to all platforms, including the burgeoning video-on-demand (VOD) and broadband markets. He will also oversee domestic distribution of the Company’s television content handled by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, and will assume responsibility for the ABC Television Network’s Affiliate Relations department.
In commenting on his announcement, Ms. Sweeney stated: “I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Ben for the past 10 years, and there is no one better suited or more deserving of this enormous responsibility. He is a consummate professional, a fantastic dealmaker and a great manager.”
Mr. Bergman added: “This is an exciting time for content distribution across various platforms, and we are confident that Ben will help keep Disney at the forefront of the industry.”
“I’m honored that the Company has entrusted me with this amazing opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting started. Laurie has built an amazingly rich division with incredibly talented people already in place, and I look forward to working alongside each of them as we continue to build a world-class distribution and sales team,” commented Mr. Pyne.
As part of the new structure, David Preschlack has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Disney & ESPN Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing, with oversight of Mr. Pyne’s previous areas of responsibility, including direction of all affiliate distribution, affiliate relations, affiliate marketing and local ad sales for the U.S. cable and satellite networks of The Walt Disney Company: ABC News Now, ABC Family, Disney Channel, SOAPnet, Toon Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD and ESPNU. He will also be in charge of U.S. distribution of related HDTV, broadband, video-on-demand, subscription video-on-demand, interactive television, pay-per-view, Spanish-language and sports syndication products. In this position, Mr. Preschlack will continue to report to Mr. Pyne and will work closely with Mr. Bratches on all ESPN-related affiliate matters.
“David is an exceptionally talented, strategically-minded executive with a rich history at the Company. He is the ideal person to take over and lead the distribution efforts for our portfolio of U.S. cable and satellite networks and related products,” said Mr. Pyne. “He has been a catalyst behind the many distribution gains and promotional initiatives that have made the Disney & ESPN Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing team an industry leader in recent years.”
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