ABC Owned Television Stations Group President Walter Liss Retires; WABC President Rebecca Campbell Named Successor

Esteemed television executive Walter Liss today announced his retirement as President, ABC Owned Television Stations Group.  He will immediately move into a consultancy role for the Station Group to assist in the transition.

In commenting on the announcement, Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company said, “I’ve worked with Walter for almost 25 years, and I know him to be a one of a kind person: a great executive who knows his business well and has always had a passion for it. He is a no-nonsense guy, who ran the best station group in the country, and loved every minute he spent in the station business! We are all grateful for his leadership, his contributions and his friendship, and we are thankful for ensuring our stations are so well-positioned for the future. Although he has definitely earned the right to retire, he will be sorely missed.”

“I’ve been in this wonderful business for over 50 years.   More than 30 of those years have been with the best Company in the world…The Walt Disney Company,” added Mr. Liss.  “Early next year I’ll go to work on my golf game.  All those guys on the Champions Tour better watch out.”

Walter C. Liss was appointed president, ABC Owned Television Stations Group, in May 1999.  In this role he had chief management responsibility for the 10 ABC owned television stations and for the Group’s ABC National Television Sales rep firm.

Under Mr. Liss’s direction, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group continued to build upon its long-time leadership as a driving force in the broadcasting industry — combining award-winning community service with outstanding ratings and financial performance.

The station group, reaching 24% of the nation’s television households, includes WABC-TV in New York; KABC-TV in Los Angeles; WLS-TV in Chicago; WPVI-TV in Philadelphia; KGO-TV in San Francisco; KTRK-TV in Houston; WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, NC; KFSN-TV in Fresno, CA; WJRT-TV in Flint, MI; and WTVG-TV in Toledo, OH.

During his tenure, Mr. Liss guided the ABC Owned Television Stations Group in innovative sales, content and technological directions. His many successful initiatives include the ongoing transition to digital technology; the launch of multiple digital channels at each ABC owned station; and the development of local station websites, as well as mobile video and text services.

In addition, Mr. Liss oversaw the rapid expansion of the ABC National Television Sales unit, which now represents regional sports networks, as well as retail-based TV channels in stores and other locations.  He has supervised the syndicated hit series “Live with Regis and Kelly” (and predecessor, “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee”) since its inception in 1988. The series is produced at ABC owned WABC-TV and distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

A long-time company executive, Mr. Liss previously served as chairman of Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Television Distribution) and its pay television operation. He has also served as president and general manager of WABC-TV in New York.

After early career experience with John Blair and Company and with Triangle Stations, Mr. Liss in 1971 joined Capital Cities Communications (which years later merged with ABC). He advanced at Capital Cities from promotion manager at WPVI-TV in Philadelphia to program director at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, NY and vice president and general manager at KFSN-TV in Fresno.

He subsequently moved to Miami, where he became vice president/general manager at WPLG-TV, a Post-Newsweek Television station. Mr. Liss moved into station group management as president of the broadcasting division of Cox Enterprises where he directed the operations of eight television stations, 12 radio stations and a national sales rep firm.

Mr. Liss began his professional career in broadcasting at age 16 as host of his own program at a local radio station. He then moved on to WIBF-FM as an announcer while attending La Salle College in Philadelphia.

Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney-ABC Television Group has since announced that local television station executive Rebecca Campbell has been appointed to the position left by Mr. Liss.  In this role Ms. Campbell will report directly to Ms. Sweeney and have chief management responsibility for the 10 ABC owned television stations and for the Group’s ABC National Television Sales rep firm.

In commenting on the announcement, Ms. Sweeney stated, “Rebecca is a strong leader with a proven track record of success, more than 25 years of experience in local broadcasting, and the respect of station leaders, employees, and her colleagues across the Company.  Her ‘viewer first’ philosophy, vision, and expertise in every facet of local television make her the right choice to lead our Owned Stations Group into the future and define their expanded role in the digital age.”

Ms. Campbell added, “In this multi-platform era local broadcasting has taken on a new level of importance, and our owned stations are at the forefront.  It’s an honor to lead such a talented team of professionals who care passionately about our audience, our programming and our brand.  We will continue to make sure ABC viewers can get the local content they need, wherever they go and whenever they want it.”

Most recently Ms. Campbell served as the President and General Manager of WABC-TV in New York, the ABC Television Stations Group’s flagship station in the nation’s largest television market. Prior to her appointment at WABC-TV in October of 2007, Ms. Campbell was the President and General Manager of WPVI-TV, the ABC owned television station in Philadelphia, PA. Both television stations are the highest-rated, from sign-on to sign-off, in their respective markets.

As WABC-TV President and General Manager, Ms. Campbell had overall management responsibility for WABC-TV/Channel 7 and all of its ancillary businesses, including two additional digital TV channels;, the station’s Internet site; ABC7’s” TAXI TV”, and “Live with Regis and Kelly,” the long-running syndicated hit series which is produced by the station.

Ms. Campbell had been President and General Manager of WPVI-TV since 2003. She joined the Philadelphia station in 1997 as Program Director and later served as Vice President of Programming.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Campbell held several programming and production positions of increasing responsibility at WFMZ-TV in Allentown, PA, and WGAL-TV in Lancaster, PA… Ms. Campbell began her broadcasting career at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh as a college student working on a local teen magazine show.

Ms. Campbell is a board member of the New York State Broadcasters Association and the Chairperson of their summer conference. She is also a board member of the Broadway Association, Inc., and is the Chairperson of the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA). Ms. Campbell serves on the Advisory Board for the League of Women Voters of the City of New York Education Fund. She was the chair of the 2009 League of Women Voter’s Awards Luncheon. While in Philadelphia, Ms. Campbell received various honors for her organizational leadership and active community service, including the “2007 Women of Distinction Award” from the Philadelphia Business Journal. 

Ms. Campbell is a magna cum laude graduate of Bloomsburg University, PA with a dual major in journalism and political science.

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