ABC News prexy David Westin has resigned. Citing “some other things I want to do professionally,” Westin informed his staff via email on Monday that he will continue to lead the division until the end of the year to ensure “an orderly transition.” The net has not yet chosen a successor, but Westin said that he tendered his resignation to Disney-ABC TV group prexy Anne Sweeney and Mouse CEO Bob Iger a month ago, so presumably ABC has already begun searching for its next news head. Sweeney said that a new successor would be announced “in the near future.”
Westin has seen the news division through some tough times, notably the decision earlier this year to cut up to 400 jobs – about a quarter of its workforce. “I’ve always admired those few who know when it’s time to move on. This is the right time for me,” Westin said. “Over the last nine months, we’ve put in place new anchors on all of our programs. At the same time, we went through a very difficult transformation made necessary by changes in our business and its economics.”
The economics have been rough – Westin was reportedly encouraged to boost profits at the division – and the ratings wars haven’t been easy, either. ABC has been unable to compete with NBC’s flagship morning and evening news programs in the ratings – “Good Morning America” perennially trails NBC’s “Today,” and “World News,” while closer to “NBC Nightly News,” is still behind. Network news is also a less profitable venture than cable news, and while NBC has two cable channels to support its news division, ABC has none.
Sweeney praised Westin in an emailed statement. “For the past 13 years, David proved himself a tireless advocate for ABC News, effectively guiding the group through some of the most seismic industry, and divisional, changes imaginable,” she said. Sweeney called Westin’s desire to pursue other professional endeavors “understandable, and commendable.”