ABC to keep key executive

Times Staff Writer

Walt Disney Co. has signed its hard-charging top television programmer to a new contract.

Steve McPherson, 43, ABC's entertainment president, has been the chief architect of the network's ratings revival, developing such shows as "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" and greenlighting other favorites, including "Dancing With the Stars" and "Brothers & Sisters."

He stepped into the job four years ago when ABC's previous regime was tossed out after several seasons of fourth-place finishes and steep financial losses.

ABC did not specify how many years McPherson's new contract would run.

"I feel really fortunate to get the opportunity to continue on with the phenomenal team I have at ABC Entertainment, and look forward to building on our success together," McPherson said in a statement. He declined interview requests.

ABC is scheduled to unveil its fall lineup Tuesday to advertisers in New York City. The network is likely to have fewer new shows to announce than in previous years because the development season was cut short by the Hollywood writers strike. ABC also has fewer holes in its schedule to fill.

Prime-time ratings at the network have fallen 14% this season compared with the previous one in the key demographic of 18- to 49-year-old viewers, in part because the network resorted to reruns during the strike.


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