Smith ankles as ABC Family prexy

Exiting exec was 14-year vet at cabler

Maureen Smith, president of Disney’s newly acquired ABC Family, has resigned from her post at the cable network.

ABC Television Group president Steve Bornstein, to whom Smith reports, made the announcement Tuesday.

Smith’s move was not entirely unexpected. Insiders have speculated that Smith, who served as head of the network when it was owned by Haim Saban and News Corp., would remain with the network only through its initial transition period.

Changes have been made in the months since the acquisition closed. Bornstein’s group has been put in charge of all day-to-day activity, including programming, scheduling, ad sales and marketing, with the exception of a two-hour daily kids block and distribution. The kids block and affiliate matters are under ABC Cable Networks Group.

In addition, ABC Family launched a new programming sked at the beginning of this month, anchored by a Friday-night block that includes “State of Grace” and repurposed episodes of ABC network series “According to Jim” and “Alias.” “State of Grace” is a series that got its start on the cabler when it was Fox Family Channel.

In the last year and a half, the network has seen six consecutive quarters of ratings growth among key adult demos.

“I am very proud of ABC Family’s success; it has been a remarkable and gratifying experience,” Smith said in a statement. “I made a commitment five months ago to stay through the channel’s initial transition, and my contribution is now complete. I wish my colleagues success, and I am looking forward to new opportunities.”

“We are thankful to Maureen for her dedication and leadership. She built a strong foundation and successfully maintained the channel’s momentum during the acquisition,” Bornstein said.

During Smith’s tenure as president of the Fox Kids Network, Fox Kids became one of the highest-rated kids franchises, with such series as “Digimon: Digital Monsters.”

Previously, Smith served as executive vice president, Fox Family Channel, and general manager, Fox Kids Network. She joined Fox Kids in 1996 as senior vice president of planning, scheduling and station relations. Prior to joining Fox Kids, Smith served as vice president, children’s research, for Fox Broadcasting Company, where she provided research and marketing support to all Fox Kids divisions.

One of the original Fox Broadcasting employees hired, Smith was with the organization for 14 years.

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