Disney TV Shakeout Continues

Two top executives at Disney's (DIS) ABC TV network are out of a job.

Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, and Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, left the company Tuesday, Disney said in a late afternoon release. Disney named Anne Sweeney and George Bodenheimer co-chairs of its Media Networks unit, in what the company called a restructuring of its television business.

The ABC network's poor prime-time performance has been one of the chief complaints that critics of Disney CEO Michael Eisner have had about current management's performance.

At Disney's contentious annual meeting in early March, Lyne and Braun -- who have been in their current posts for a little over two years -- said they had made progress in their attempt to turn around the network's struggling prime-time schedule.

Though Lyne and Braun said they had rebuilt the network's schedule, they acknowledged that they had fallen short on a key ingredient in their turnaround plans: to establish, through a combination of hard work and luck, a megahit show. "We don't have a truly breakout series or night," Lyne said. "A single true hit would make a remarkable difference."

In Disney's restructuring statement, the company said Sweeney will add the ABC Television Network -- which includes ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News and Touchstone Television -- to her responsibilities. Bodenheimer will remain head of ESPN and ABC Sports, and both will continue to report to operating chief Bob Iger.

"Under this new structure, the combined strength of the creative content and resources in both cable and broadcast television will allow Disney to build on its reputation as a leading provider of world-class, high quality entertainment, news and sports programming," Sweeney said. "The ABC Television Network is an incredibly important and valuable asset for Disney and is a leader in daytime entertainment, sports and news programming, and I look forward to working with the great team there as we return ABC to its leadership position in prime time."

Disney's shares fell 16 cents Tuesday, to $24.80.

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