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Tips for surviving as a network president

From Campaign US

When I learned that Channing Dungey was replacing Paul Lee as ABC’s president of entertainment, my first thought was “that was fast.” After all, it was only 2010 that Lee stepped in for Stephen McPherson. But consider this: Within that six-year period, every one of the five broadcast networks has shuffled its entertainment president.

So really, this is business as usual.

What happened this time? According to ABC, Paul Lee had simply “stepped down.” The press, however, painted Lee as the loser in a “power struggle” with his boss, Ben Sherwood, President of Disney/ABC TV Group. The real reason? ABC’s ratings in primetime are slipping. And when the ratings cool, the network chief gets the boot. Regardless of what else was going on, it’s the only reason that matters.

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Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of the “Mr. Television” for Campaign US (www.campaignlive.com). Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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  1. Good article Marc, being a network chief definitely isn’t very appealing of a job these days and I would hate to work for ABC who answers to Disney who focuses more on their cable networks than they do ABC.

    I applaud Paul Lee for taking risks but the truth is most of his series were too weird or strange. Moonves and recently Greenblatt have figured out how to be successful with procedurals which is what ABC was lacking in primetime way too many serial dramas on their network. It’s funny how Lee was doing better than Greenblatt in the beginning then Greenblatt slowly started taking him down thanks to Dick Wolf.

    Dungey is going to have to go procedural heavy with their dramas to compete with CBS and NBC going into the next decade.

    • Thank you! I always wanted to sit in one of those chairs and years ago Susan Lyne flew me out to LA to consult with ABC on their line-up. It was right before Desperate Housewives debuted and I suggested Sunday at 9 p.m. Susan wanted to have me out every quarter, and weeks later she and Lloyd Braun were both fired. Oh well…

      • Marc I think you would’ve been a good chief or consultant to one of these networks because you appreciate television history and stuff so you would’ve known what the networks wanted. ABC during that period of time to me was a lot more funner network to run than it is now and that was when ABC was struggling before McPherson found DH, Grey’s, and Lost.

        The fact that you suggested 9pm on Sundays for Desperate Housewives shows how successful you would’ve been. I wonder if they would’ve scheduled it there without you. You may be the main reason why DH aired on Sundays at 9pm. That is really cool!

        Both FOX and ABC could use your services right now.