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Disney elevates Ben Sherwood as co-chairman

MUMBAI: In a strategic move for the Walt Disney Company, ABC News president Ben Sherwood has been elevated as Anne Sweeney’s successor. He will assume the role of co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, post Sweeney’s retirement next year.

Sherwood will take on the role from 1 February, 2015 after transitioning over the next 10 months. His experience with high-profile digital deals tips off the strategic direction Disney is looking at with its ABC property. Sherwood will continue to oversee ABC News until a successor is announced.

The announcement was made by Sweeney and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Sweeney announced her decision to retire on 11 March to pursue a career in television direction. ESPN President John Skipper is the other co-chairman of Disney Media Networks.

In his new role, he will be responsible for the ABC broadcast network and cable channels including the Disney Channels and ABC Family. Prior to this, Sherwood oversaw ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ as it rose to become the leading morning news programme in US. He joined Disney in 1989 and worked as a producer in the news division before moving to NBC News. He returned to ABC in 2004.

As ABC News president, Sherwood created an online news partnership with Yahoo, and also formed a joint venture with Univision, the Fusion cable network aimed at young Hispanic viewers.

Iger said, “Ben is one of those unique executives who combine rich creative experience with great business acumen. He’s also focused, strategic and competitive, as evidenced by the success of GMA, the Yahoo deal that delivered ABC News online dominance and his vision behind our new cable and digital joint venture, Fusion. These reasons, and many others, make Ben the ideal candidate to oversee the future of the Disney/ABC Television Group.”