Touchstone TV now ABC TV Studio

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The Walt Disney Co. is dropping its Touchstone Television label, renaming the Disney-ABC Television Group's in-house production company ABC Television Studio.

The move, announced Thursday at the 2007 Disney Investor Conference in Orlando, is part of the company's strategy to streamline its identity across different platforms, focusing on three core brands: Disney, ABC and ESPN.

"Over the past few years, the studio has delivered some of the highest quality, most successful programming on television, including international franchise hits 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives,' as well as this year's Golden Globe winners, 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Ugly Betty,' " said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC TV Group. "The new name ties this success more closely with the ABC brand that viewers have come to value and trust."

Another Disney unit, Buena Vista Games, has been rechristened to Disney Interactive Studios.

There has been no word on the future of other divisions carrying the Buena Vista name, including syndicator Buena Vista Television and international seller Buena Vista International Television, but it is understood that those companies also will be renamed.

The Touchstone banner will continue to exist on the feature side where it also has been scaled down. In July, Walt Disney Studios announced a new emphasis on Disney-branded movies with a plan to release 10 Disney live-action and animated films per year and only two or three adult-oriented Touchstone Pictures films.

In a media landscape that is becoming more fragmented, big industry conglomerates have been consolidating their brands. A year ago, following CBS Corp.'s split from Viacom, CBS' sister studio Paramount Network Television was changed to CBS Paramount Network Television. According to industry sources, the "Paramount" portion is expected to be eventually dropped.

ABC Television Studio, run by president Mark Pedowitz, produces 18 series on seven broadcast and cable networks. While ABC and ABC Family are the priority, the company intends to continue to sell to networks outside of the Disney family.

"It is incredibly rewarding that the company recognizes the strength of the studio as an asset to build overall brand perception," Pedowitz said.

Touchstone Television was formed during the 1984-85 season -- shortly after Michael Eisner took the reins of Disney -- with the launch of "Wildside." The short-lived Western series was followed by hit comedy "The Golden Girls" the following season.
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