Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Little Change Predicted for ABC Shows

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Little Change Predicted for ABC Shows

Article excerpt

Now that the Walt Disney Co. is buying ABC, can viewers expect another Disney Channel?

The quick answer: The Disney Channel will remain on cable.

Despite all the talk of a "good fit," industry observers doubt that Disney-produced series will swamp ABC's lineup, and Disney officials dismiss that possibility.

One reason: Even when they have the same owner, a network and a studio operate by different rules. A network wants hits, wherever they come from. A studio wants to sell its shows to the highest bidder - even if that's a competing network.

While Disney has a thriving TV production arm, "we're not looking to dominate or even be the majority player on the ABC prime-time schedule," Disney chairman Michael D. Eisner said at a news conference Monday to announce his company's acquisition of Capital Cities-ABC Inc.

"We want ABC to pick the best shows and the best people that will get the biggest audiences for the advertisers," said Eisner, himself a former ABC entertainment president.

For the 1995-96 season, ABC happens to have scheduled four Disney-produced series - the returning sitcoms "Ellen," "Home Improvement" and "Boy Meets World," as well as newcomer "Maybe This Time."

But Disney landed other new series all over the place: on CBS ("If Not For You"), NBC ("Brotherly Love"), Fox ("Misery Loves Company"), as well as UPN ("Nowhere Man") and The WB Network ("Unhappily Ever After").

The latter two networks were launched earlier this year by, respectively, the Paramount and Warner Bros. film studios to give them broadcast-TV outlets for series they produce. Yet not only are UPN and The WB Network buying series from other studios, they also aggressively pitch their own studios' shows to their rivals.

"I'm sure Disney will keep on selling programs to the other networks," said Steve Sternberg, an analyst for BJK & E Media Group.

As for ABC, he added, it will keep on doing what comes naturally: looking far and wide for series that will get the biggest viewership and bring in the heftiest advertising rates. …

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