After spending more than 30 years of his 50 year-plus TV career at ABC, Walter Liss has announced his retirement as President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group. Anne Sweeney, Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, and President, Disney-ABC Television Group, has named WABC-TV New York President & GM Rebecca Campbell as the successor to Liss.
In her new role, Campbell will oversee the 10 ABC O&O television stations and the group’s rep firm, ABC national Television Sales.
“Rebecca is a strong leader with a proven track record of success, more than 25 years of experience in local broadcasting, and the respect of station leaders, employees, and her colleagues across the Company. Her ‘viewer first’ philosophy, vision, and expertise in every facet of local television make her the right choice to lead our Owned Stations Group into the future and define their expanded role in the digital age,” said Sweeney in announcing the promotion.
“In this multi-platform era local broadcasting has taken on a new level of importance, and our owned stations are at the forefront. It’s an honor to lead such a talented team of professionals who care passionately about our audience, our programming and our brand. We will continue to make sure ABC viewers can get the local content they need, wherever they go and whenever they want it,” said Campbell.
Having headed ABC’s Philadelphia station, WPVI-TV, before being tapped to run the network’s New York flagship, Campbell’s resume also includes WFMZ-TV Allentown, PA; WGAL-TV Lancaster, PA; and began with work as a college student on a local teen magazine show for KDKA-TV Pittsburgh. She was repeatedly in the national news earlier this year as WABC was locked in a retransmission consent stand-off with Cablevision. The retrans dispute was resolved in just hours after Cablevision had pulled WABC from its systems.
Liss had headed the O&O group since May 1999, having previously served as Chairman of Buena Vista Television, the syndication arm now called Disney-ABC Television Distribution. His long resume had also included a stint as President and GM of WABC and he had been President of the Cox Enterprises broadcast operations, including its TV stations, TV rep firms and radio stations. He began his career at 16 as a local radio DJ.
“I’ve been in this wonderful business for over 50 years. More than 30 of those years have been with the best Company in the world…The Walt Disney Company,” said Liss. “Early next year I’ll go to work on my golf game. All those guys on the Champions Tour better watch out,” he added.
Disney CEO Bob Iger praised Liss for his service to The Walt Disney Company: “I’ve worked with Walter for almost 25 years, and I know him to be a one of a kind person: a great executive who knows his business well and has always had a passion for it. He is a no-nonsense guy, who ran the best station group in the country, and loved every minute he spent in the station business! We are all grateful for his leadership, his contributions and his friendship, and we are thankful for ensuring our stations are so well-positioned for the future. Although he has definitely earned the right to retire, he will be sorely missed.”