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Shapiro Taps Silverman as ABC Family GM

ABC Family last week named ABC and ESPN veteran Mark Silverman to the newly created posts of senior vice president and general manager.

Silverman, who will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the channel, will report to ABC Family president Angela Shapiro. His duties will include the development and execution of an overall business strategy for ABC Family, with an emphasis on ad sales, business affairs, business development and finance.

His arrival comes as the network continues to struggle for ratings while it seeks a brand-defining show. In August, ABC Family's primetime ratings decreased 13% to a 0.7 from a 0.8 in the year-earlier period.

Silverman has held a variety of jobs at The Walt Disney Co., most recently as vice president of planning and development at ABC Inc. In that slot, he led planning for the ABC Television Network, ABC-owned TV stations, ABC Cable Networks Group, ABC Radio, ESPN and Buena Vista Television.

His responsibilities in that post included leading the launch of new cable networks, such as SoapNet.

Prior to ABC, Silverman developed and launched ESPN Zone, where he was general manager and lead all key analysis and negotiations, including real estate and sponsorship deals.

Shapiro pointed out that since she joined ABC Family a year ago, she has replaced the head of virtually every department, including programming, finance, business affairs and research. Now with her second in command — this new general manager post — Shapiro said she was looking for someone with a finance background who could be hands-on in daily operations.

"My strengths coming into the job are more in programming and marketing and synergy and working with sales on integrated marketing opportunities, or coming up with ideas for brand extensions or new business opportunities," Shapiro said.

"Mark has a strong background in finance and is someone who can deal with day-to-day operations of the channel, who can work on a day-in an day-out basis in sales, who can work with me to not only come with ideas for new business opportunities, but [determine if[ there is a business plan that supports those ideas," she added.

Silverman's experience with cable-network brand and business extensions such as the ESPN Zone chain of restaurants is of special interest to Shapiro for ABC Family. When she was the head of ABC Daytime, for example, the idea of creating a Soap Opera Bistro at Disneyland was hatched.

"There are a lot of ways in which you could extend your brand that work really well for the viewer, and give you a chance to get into areas from a marketing perspective that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to afford — and sometimes provides an incremental revenue stream," Shapiro said.

Silverman's resume also includes a stint as vice president of finance and planning for Walt Disney Studios, where he facilitated the acquisition of Miramax Films.