ABC is restructuring its children’s entertainment department within its parent company, Disney, to develop future projects that will maintain and improve the network’s standing on Saturday mornings.
The network expects the reorganization will simplify its ability to take advantage of the programming opportunities and resources Disney offers. A greater imprint of Disney animation is expected on ABC’s children’s programming in the future.
ABC currently programs five hours of Saturday morning children’s fare. Last season, ABC finished second to Fox in the a.m. ratings. After the first month of the current season, ABC again ranked second behind Fox, and ahead of onrushing Warner Bros. and CBS. Several new ABC children’s programs have landed in the top 10 in ratings, including Disney’s Mighty Ducks and Bone Chillers.
A new executive will be brought in to head the division and is expected to work closely on future children’s programming with Geraldine Laybourne, president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, and Dean Valentine, president of Walt Disney Television and Walt Disney Television Animation. Although it wasn’t disclosed how much of a role Laybourne-who built Nickelodeon into a powerhouse as its president-will play, an ABC spokesperson termed it ‘significant.’
In addition to being responsible for coordinating, developing, scheduling and managing ABC children’s programming, the new department head will serve as a liaison with sales, research, affiliate relations and other departments from a New York City base.
The new executive replaces Linda Steiner, vice president of ABC children’s entertainment, who is leaving the company.