Disney has announced that it has promoted Debra OConnell to the new role of president of News Group and Networks, Disney Entertainment.

The newly formed News Group and Networks unit places key businesses and operations in a single vertical under OConnell to better enable synergy and collaboration. The alignment marks an expansion of duties for OConnell, a 27-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company who most recently served as president, Networks and Television Business Operations for DET.

In her new role, OConnell adds ABC News to a purview that includes the ABC Owned Television Stations and P&L responsibilities across the company’s multiplatform linear entertainment networks, including ABC broadcast network, Disney Channels, FX Networks, Freeform and National Geographic Channels.

With her new role, both Kim Godwin, president of ABC News, and Chad Matthews, president of ABC Owned Television Stations, will report to OConnell, aligning the news network with the station group in the country.

ABC News is home to“World News Tonight,” “Good Morning America,” “The View” and “20/20.”, all of which are also available to stream on Hulu and Hulu On Disney+.

The announcement was made by Dana Walden, co-chairman, Disney Entertainment, who said in a statement:

“Debra is an excellent executive who has succeeded in a wide range of leadership roles around our company and knows very well the extraordinary power of ABC News and its world-class journalists.  This new role gives her oversight across all our linear operations, where she will be able to optimize our iconic brands and shepherd them into the future. I look forward to having her lead these incredibly talented teams as we build on our success.”

Debra OConnell also said in a statement:

“I consider it a privilege to advocate for the best networks, the best news organization and the best stations in the world, and thank Dana for her leadership and trust.  I’m excited to work with Kim, Chad and these exceptional teams on strategies to superserve our viewers for years to come.”

Previously, OConnell led WABC-TV New York as president and general manager, where she had overall management responsibility for the station and all of its ancillary businesses as well as “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Under her leadership, the long-running hit series became the No. 1 syndicated daytime talk show for the first time in franchise history. In her previous executive roles, she served as executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, of Disney|ABC’s consolidated advertising sales group; president, National TV Sales, ABC Owned Television Stations; and vice president of marketing at WABC-TV.

This year, Broadcasting & Cable will induct OConnell into its Hall of Fame, Class of 2024. Previously, they awarded her Broadcaster of the Year in 2022. Additionally, she was honored with a 2022 Gracie Leadership Award from the Alliance of Women in Media.

OConnell is on the board of directors for A&E Networks, National Geographic Partners and TVB, a not-for-profit trade association representing America’s local broadcast television industry. She also serves on advisory boards for the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and League of Women Voters of New York City.

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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