Sweeney To Exit Disney, Wants To Be TV Director

In a somewhat surprising move, Disney-ABC Television president and Disney Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney will be leaving the company early in 2015.

Sweeney, who has been with the company for nearly two decades, is resigning to become a television director. She will be leaving her position in January of next year.

Bob Iger, chairman/chief executive officer of Walt Disney Company, has said a search is underway for her replacement. Sweeney became president of Disney-ABC Television in 2004.

Concerning her somewhat unusual move out of the corporate ranks, Sweeney stated: “As wonderful as the experience has been, there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place.”

She added: “I finally listened to that voice and thought, if not now, when?”

Sweeney oversees ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, the ABC Television Network, cable channel ABC Family, and Disney Channels Worldwide, which includes Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama and Radio Disney. She is also responsible for Disney’s equity interests in A+E Networks, Hulu and Fusion.

Sweeney came to Walt Disney Company in 1996 as president of Disney Channel and executive vice president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks. From 2000 to 2004, she was president of ABC Cable Networks.

Before this, she was chairman/chief executive officer of FX Networks for three years. Prior to that position, she spent 12 years at Viacom’s Nickelodeon/Nite at Nite in senior executive positions.

In 2005, Sweeney helped lead Disney’s groundbreaking digital TV efforts in making Disney-ABC TV shows available on iTunes. More recently, she has overseen efforts to start the WatchABC app service -- making ABC the first linear broadcast network to provide authenticated viewers with access to ABC shows and local TV content.

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