Ahead of its pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney has announced an executive reorg in its Media Networks division that will see current Fox president and Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice (pictured) become chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. And Fox Television Group CEO and chairman Dana Walden will assume the chairman’s role for Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.
Under Rice—who now reports directly to Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger—Disney Media Networks will include Disney Channels, ABC Television Network, Twentieth Century Fox Television, ABC Studios, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, Freeform, FX Networks and FX Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios and the National Geographic channels.
Reporting to Rice, Walden’s new remit includes Twentieth Century Fox Television, Fox 21 Television Studios, ABC Entertainment, ABC Studios, Freeform and ABC Owned Television Stations Group.
As a result of the changes, Disney Media Networks co-chair and Disney|ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood will remain in his current role for a transition period, but will exit the company once the acquisition is complete.
Rice and Walden won’t assume their new roles until the acquisition is finalized, which is expected to be early next year, following a number of non-US merger and regulatory reviews.
In July, Disney and 21st Century Fox shareholders voted unanimously in favor of Disney’s US$71.3-billion bid to acquire large parts of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, including its movie and television studios, cable properties and international TV businesses, a 30% stake in streaming service Hulu, and a 39% stake in European satcaster Sky. (On October 4, Fox’s Sky stake was taken off the table, after Comcast purchased it for US$15.1 billion.)
Execs who will also report to Rice under the new structure include Disney Channels Worldwide president and CCO Gary Marsh and National Geographic Partners chairman Gary Knell.