The Walt Disney Company has confirmed that ABC News President Ben Sherwood, who successfully steered ABC News to new heights over the past several years, including driving Good Morning America to Number 1, brokering a landmark partnership with Yahoo to create the Number 1 news and information online network, and launching Fusion, a joint venture news and lifestyle network with Univision, will assume the title of co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group on February 1st 2015.
Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group, will remain in that capacity through January 2015. Effective immediately, Sherwood will begin the transition as Co-President, Disney/ABC Television Group. He will also continue to oversee ABC News until a successor is named.
In a surprise announcement, Sweeney, widely regarded as one of the most influential executives in the broadcasting industry, and responsible for 18 years of growth and success of Disney’s global entertainment and news properties, revealed March 11 that she was quitting Disney to pursue a career in television directing.
Robert A Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, described Sherwood as 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.”
Sweeney added that it was Sherwood’s “intense passion and incredible insight” that made Disney confident he’d do great things as President of ABC News. “Over the years, he has moved from success-to-success and helped create a more vibrant, collaborative and powerful News division that embraces innovation and risk-taking. Ben’s now set to bring those same attributes to bear for the larger Group, and I could not be more thrilled. This announcement simply highlights the fact that our talent and succession planning process works.”
Sherwood said he was “honoured and humbled” that Iger had entrusted him with “this great responsibility and amazing opportunity,” and was also deeply grateful to Sweeney, who had “built and led a powerhouse division” over the last 10 years. “I am looking forward to her counsel and wisdom during this transition period. I must also thank the remarkable people of ABC News who inspire me every day with their creativity, dedication and spirit. I will keep their commitment to excellence and their fierce competitiveness firmly in mind as I move forward to meet this exciting new challenge.”