By Joe Flint 

Channing Dungey, a former senior Walt Disney Co. and Netflix Inc. creative executive, has been selected to be the new chairman of AT&T Inc.'s Warner Bros. Television Group, the company said Monday.

Ms. Dungey will take the helm early next year. She succeeds Peter Roth, who said last week he would step down in 2021 after more than two decades running the television production studio.

As head of Warner Bros. Television, Ms. Dungey will inherit one of the most prolific and profitable producers of prime-time programming. Under Mr. Roth, Warner Bros. Television typically was the biggest supplier of content in the television industry.

Besides selling shows to the broadcast and cable networks, Warner Bros. makes content for the streaming services including the Netflix show "The Kominsky Method" and Apple TV+'s new comedy "Ted Lasso."

Ms. Dungey joins the studio in a time of transition. For decades the studio operated with considerable autonomy in terms of the shows it made and sold. Even though it was part of a company that includes HBO, cable networks TNT and TBS and co-owned the CW Network, Warner Bros. Television typically did more business with nonaffiliated platforms.

Since AT&T acquired Time Warner and redubbed it WarnerMedia, it has made servicing its own platforms -- especially the new direct-to-consumer offering HBO Max -- a bigger priority. HBO, long its own fief, now reports into the newly created WarnerMedia Studio and Networks Group. as do the general entertainment cable channels.

Consolidation of the content and production operations has resulted in significant reductions in staff, and another round of layoffs is expected next month, people familiar with the matter said.

WarnerMedia executives insist Warner Bros. Television can maintain its stature as the industry's content supplier while also ramping up the number of shows it makes for HBO Max and other sister platforms.

In announcing Ms. Dungey's appointment, WarnerMedia Studio and Networks Group Chair Ann Sarnoff said Ms. Dungey is "a great choice to lead the Television Group as it continues to grow its production operations for HBO Max, while also maintaining its standing as the industry's leading independent supplier of programming to all outlets."

Ms. Dungey wasn't available for comment. In a statement, she said, "This is such an electric time in our industry, and we have so much opportunity available to us between Warner Bros.' core businesses and HBO Max, I cannot wait to dive in."

The pivot inside WarnerMedia is taking place at other companies as well, including Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal and Disney, as traditional media giants focus on new direct-to-streaming platforms in an effort to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others. Ms. Dungey comes to Warner Bros. after a stint of less than two years at Netflix as a senior content executive. She left in the wake of a restructuring that led to the departure of longtime original programming chief Cindy Holland. Bela Bajaria, who had been in charge of unscripted and international content, was promoted to new global TV chief.

Although Ms. Dungey left amid several changes under Ms. Bajaria, a person close to the company said she resigned to pursue this opportunity and not as a result of the new structure.

Shows Ms. Dungey worked on at Netflix include the recently released drama "The Queen's Gambit" and "Bridgerton," a historical drama from "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes.

Prior to Netflix, Ms. Dungey spent 14 years at Disney in various programming posts including head of ABC Entertainment. Shows developed during her tenure included Ms. Rhimes's "Scandal," the medical drama "The Good Doctor" and the comedy "Black-ish."

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 19, 2020 12:14 ET (16:14 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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