Disney-ABC to revamp after Blackwell's exit

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Disney-ABC Television Group is restructuring its daytime unit following a decision by Deborah Blackwell, announced Monday, to step down from her post as GM of SoapNet.

Brian Frons, president of daytime at Disney-ABC Television Group, said Monday that he will not replace the position, choosing to manage the day-to-day operations of the channel himself.

Blackwell, who will remain at the network as a consultant until her contract expires early next year, said she'll be looking at opportunities in cable as well as in new media, pointing to her previous post as president of Idealab's MyHome.com, an Internet startup.

As for her decision to leave, she said the timing is right to "try something new" after 6 1/2 years at SoapNet growing the distribution and beefing up its original and acquired programming.

"SoapNet is in a fantastic place right now," she said. "When I started there, we were in under 10 million homes. We were just this feisty little startup, and now we're well-established and in fantastic shape as we're nearing 70 million households. That's enabled us to do a lot of exciting original programming and fantastic acquisitions. We've built a wonderful brand."

She added that the hardest part of exiting SoapNet was leaving her team, whom she gave praise to, and said she's leaving the network in "great hands."

For his part, Frons praised Blackwell.

"I want to thank Deborah for her dedication and leadership," he said. "Her influence can be measured in distribution gains, original programming, acquisitions and the strength of SOAPnet's brand. She's built a strong foundation and successfully positioned the channel for future growth."

Blackwell joined Disney ABC Cable Networks Group in June 2001. From 1993-99, she was head of WMA's television movie and miniseries packaging department and before that held positions at Hearst Entertainment, including senior vp.

The daytime division of the Disney-ABC Television Group was formed in May 2006 when Frons was named president of the new division, which oversees the creation, production and delivery of all product for ABC Daytime, SoapNet and Buena Vista Prods.
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