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Disney reveals structure of its media networks post acquisition of 21st Century Fox

Are you ready Disney fans? The company is about to go through a huge growth spurt. The pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox means a lot of new characters and stories for The Walt Disney Company to leverage, and an entire studio of support personnel and managers that helped create it. How those assets would be combined with the existing Disney structure was one of the big questions left after the deal was announced.

Yesterday, Disney released its plans for the new organizational structure for its Media Networks segment. Under the new structure, several 21st Century Fox executives would assume leadership roles at the Disney business segment once the acquisition closes, as 21st Century Fox’s businesses are incorporated into Disney. All this depends on regulatory acceptance of the deal, but there has been conditional approval for that.

“The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Upon completion of the acquisition, this new structure positions these proven leaders to help drive maximum value from a greatly enhanced portfolio of incredible brands and businesses.”

Mr. Rice will become Chairman, Walt Disney Television and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks, reporting directly to Mr. Iger. The new organization under Mr. Rice will include ABC Television Network, ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, Disney Channels, Freeform, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Networks and FX Productions, Fox 21 Television Studios, and the National Geographic channels.

“I love making television and have been fortunate to work with incredibly talented executives and storytellers. Disney is the world’s preeminent creative company, and I look forward to working for Bob, and with his exceptional leadership team, to build on that amazing legacy. I also want to thank Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch for the privilege of working on such a wide array of movies and television, both entertainment and sports. It has been a wonderful thirty years,” Mr. Rice said.

Mr. Rice’s appointment will take effect upon completion of the acquisition. Mr. Rice is currently President of 21st Century Fox and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Networks Group.

Reporting to Mr. Rice will be:

  • Dana Walden, Chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment
  • John Landgraf, Chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions
  • Gary E. Knell, Chairman of National Geographic Partners
  • Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide
  • James Goldston, President, ABC News

Ms. Walden’s portfolio will include Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, as well as ABC Entertainment, ABC Studios, Freeform and the ABC Owned Television Stations Group. Ms. Walden is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Television Group.

Reporting to Ms. Walden will be:

  • Channing Dungey, President, ABC Entertainment
  • Patrick Moran, President, ABC Studios
  • Jonathan Davis and Howard Kurtzman, Presidents of Twentieth Century Fox Television
  • Bert Salke, President, Fox 21 Television Studios
  • Tom Ascheim, President, Freeform
  • Wendy McMahon, President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group

Ben Sherwood, Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney|ABC Television Group, will remain in his current role during the transition period until the acquisition closes.

“I want to personally thank Ben Sherwood for his years of service at ABC and Disney. Ben has been a valued colleague, and I deeply appreciate his many contributions and insights, as well as his professionalism and cooperation in this transition,” Mr. Iger said.

Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox has received formal approval from shareholders of both companies, and Disney and 21st Century Fox have entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice that allows the acquisition to proceed, while requiring the sale of the Fox Sports Regional Networks. The transaction is subject to a number of non-U.S. merger and other regulatory reviews.

What does this mean for Disney’s media networks in terms of production? The big will probably come to the FX and FXX networks. There will also doubtlessly be more consolidation in personnel as the structure above is finalized. We’re excited to have National Geographic part of the Disney family and hope there will be some quick, but sensible, integration with Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There’s a lot more change to come and we’ll try and keep a close eye on it from our vantage point in blogland.

2 thoughts on “Disney reveals structure of its media networks post acquisition of 21st Century Fox”

    1. No, Rafiki’s is closed so Disney can afford to pay for Fox. Tons of things in the parks are being downsized, closed, or removed in order to help fun the Fox purchase, and it sucks. Disney doesn’t actually need to do this in order to afford to buy Fox, but they feel it’s more important to keep the shareholders happy than to actually entertain the guests who pay large sums of money to visit the theme parks.

      While I normally don’t have a problem with cost-cutting when it’s done for a good reason, there simply is no reason to be laying off employees and shutting down entire attractions — punishing both employees and guests — in order to help fund .01% of this purchase. Bad show, Disney.

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