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ABC ponders current affairs

Network may follow NBC in reinstating department

ABC may reinstate its current programming department after all.

ABC Entertainment Group prexy Steve McPherson broached the subject with staffers Monday, suggesting that a dedicated executive to head up current programming was within the realm of possibility.

The network hasn’t fielded a dedicated current department since last year, when network and studio programming operations were merged under McPherson. As part of the restructure, jobs devoted to current programming were axed altogether — including that of current department topper Kim Rozenfeld, who moved into a production deal at Disney.

And earlier this month ABC said it had no plans to bring back a dedicated department for current programming fare.

But with a slew of new series on the fall docket — not to mention aging staples that might need a little more attention — the network began to reconsider. There’s nothing firm in the works yet, and no exec has been identified for the gig.

But the return to a current department would come after a similar decision by NBC. The Peacock recently reinstated its current department under exec VP Vernon Sanders.

CBS and Fox have maintained current programming departments.

The nets have long debated the pros and cons of current departments, which frequently are the first to go when belts are tightened.

Current execs are usually seen as the unsung heroes at the networks, keeping an eye on established shows to make sure they go the distance. It’s not as exciting as development, but current programming is seen as boot camp for execs who want to rise through the ranks.

The nets have flirted through the years with a “team” structure, however, in which development execs stick with shows after they made it on the air. That scenario has merit: Instead of shoving a series off to a new set of execs once it hits the air, there’s a benefit to keeping development execs involved in the current programming operations of shows they had earlier shepherded through.

Eventually, however, the nets usually reinstate those current departments, as execs find it difficult to juggle both.

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