Debra OConnell Elevated to President, News Group and Networks, Disney Entertainment

Debra OConnell has been named the President of Disney’s News Group and Networks division.

What’s Happening:

  • OConnell’s role elevation was announced today by Dana Walden, co-chairman, Disney Entertainment, to whom OConnell will continue to report.
  • Kim Godwin, president, ABC News, will join Chad Matthews, president, ABC Owned Television Stations, in reporting to OConnell, aligning the nation’s No. 1 news network with the No. 1 station group in the country – connecting an array of powerhouse shows such as World News Tonight with David Muir and Good Morning America.
  • 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 Channel, FX Networks, Freeform and National Geographic Channels.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What They’re Saying:

  • Dana Walden, co-chairman, Disney Entertainment: “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: “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.”
Luke Manning
Luke is a fan of all things theme parks and self-proclaimed #1 fan of Joffrey’s Coffee, who lives in Kissimmee, FL