Rice Thrown As Disney Puts Fox Exec In Top Slot


As part of the integration planning for its pending acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company used Columbus Day to reveal its post-conquest plans with a new organizational structure for its Media Networks segment.

The new structure, effective with the closing of its 21CF deal, sees several 21st Century Fox executives assuming leadership roles at the Disney business segment.

The biggest news involves 21CF President and Fox Networks Group Chairman/CEO Peter Rice. Post-merger, he’ll be Walt Disney Television Chairman and Disney Media Networks co-chair, with Fox Television Group CEO Dana Walden reporting to Rice.

Walden takes the new title of Chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, with seven individuals reporting to her — including Wendy McMahon, recently tapped as President of the ABC Owned Television Stations Group.

“The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s long-standing Chairman and CEO. “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.”

For Rice, his jurisdiction 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.

Walden’s portfolio is comprised of Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios; ABC Entertainment; ABC Studios; cable TV network Freeform; and the ABC Owned Television Stations Group.

Those reporting to Rice include:

  • 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

In addition to McMahon, those reporting to Walden are:

  • 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

Disney Media Networks Co-Chair and Disney|ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood will remain in his current role during the transition period until the acquisition closes. Sherwood is expected to exit the company once the 21CF deal closes.

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.