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Posts Tagged ‘Steve McPherson’

ABC News Chief Ben Sherwood: No More Layoffs, But Change Needs to Come to the Broadcast News Division

This morning, new ABC News president Ben Sherwood kicked off ABC’s day of presentations at the Television Critics Association Winter press tour in Pasadena.

Sherwood told the assembled critics that there were no more layoffs in store at the news division, which saw hundreds of employees leave the company through buyouts and layoffs last year.

Sherwood also said he and Disney-ABC TV chief Anne Sweeney were interested in finding some sort of partner for ABC News, be it a cable network like Bloomberg TV or a digital partner like Facebook.

“If we can partner on the digital side or the cable side, we must do that,” Sherwood said, adding with regards to Bloomberg: “How can you not think about partnering with an organization that has had the success Bloomberg has?”

That jives with what Sweeney told Broadcasting & Cable in an interview today(subscription required):

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Reexamining ABC News’ Recent Senior Leadership Changes

Disney-Logo090610.jpgOn August 26, ABC News president David Westin announced a new senior leadership structure at the division.

At the time, it seemed as though Westin was taking a more hands-on approach to ABC News programs, with the EPs of “World News,” “GMA” and “Nightline” reporting directly to him.

In hindsight, however, the rearranging takes on a very different appearance.

In his memo to staff yesterday, Westin says that he told Disney-ABC TV chief Anne Sweeney and Disney CEO Bob Iger of his decision “a month ago.”

In other words, the new leadership stricture was put together with the knowledge that Westin would be leaving the company.

So what can we take away from all this?

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McPherson Out at ABC, What Does It Mean for Nightline?

mcpherson072810.jpg Yesterday Steve McPherson, ABC’s President of Entertainment, submitted his resignation. The shakeup took the media world by surprise last night. McPherson says he plans to start a new media company, and a “new entrepreneurial venture in the spirits business.”

In the TV news world, McPherson was known to be a vocal critic of “Nightline” at 11:35 p.m., arguing that the time period should belong to the entertainment division of ABC, in order to better compete with “The Tonight Show” and “Late Show.”

In 2008, when it looked like Jay Leno would become available once Conan O’Brien took over “Tonight,” McPherson said that putting a comedy program at 11:35 was a “huge possibility,” and that late night in general was “a growth area for us.”

Of course, the decision to move “Nightline” to another slot would had to have come from Anne Sweeney, who oversees the Disney-ABC TV group, and to whom both McPherson and ABC News chief David Westin report.

So will McPherson’s apparent replacement, ABC Family president Paul Lee, fight as hard to bring “Nightline”‘s time period to the entertainment side of the company? It is far too soon to tell, but if anyone could appreciate what “Nightline” brings to ABC, it is Lee.

As this 2008 profile notes, Lee got his start in television as a journalist and documentary filmmaker for the BBC, eventually moving stateside as the founding GM of BBC America.