OnScreen Summit 2011: Sweeney Praises Paul Lee for ABC Prime

Anne Sweeney, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of the ABC Television Group, heaped on praise for entertainment chief Paul Lee and his work on ABC's revivified primetime. She noted Lee's emergence from taking over the job in 2009 to the present, and credits Lee for quarterbacking "some of the most exciting television of the fall."

Addressing a packed room of media professionals at the B&C/Multichannel News OnScreen Media Summit, Sweeney specifically mentioned Once Upon a Time and Revenge, and credited Lee for bolstering the 10 p.m. hour and adding more successful comedies to the ABC fold. "He's made some good, strong, bold moves," Sweeney said, while also holding potential hits to mid-season.

Sweeney was interviewed by Katie Couric. Couric, who will helm an ABC-backed talk show next fall, acknowledged the peculiar sensation of interviewing ABC's television chief on Twitter before stepping to the stage. "Nervous about going to interview my boss Anne Sweeney at the B&C Media Summit!" she tweeted.

Couric also remarked on the Beyonce tune that welcomed her and Sweeney to the stage, quipping that it was preferable to the off color number that Michele Bachmann heard on Jimmy Fallon's Late Night show in recent weeks.

Sweeney sounded a bullish note on digital media and its revenue potential. ABC was aggressive on digital deals early on; Sweeney said she was "astounded by what's happened" since ABC inked a distribution deal with iTunes back in 2005. Innovation is "baked into our DNA," she said of the digital frontier, dating back to Walt Disney.

The ABC TV chief mentioned a recent report that said television is the most discussed topic on Twitter. "Television is the social currency of our age," said Sweeney.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.