Television

Bodenheimer to take charge of ESPN, ABC Sports

MUMBAI: ESPN President George Bodenheimer will assume responsibility for both ESPN and ABC Sports when Howard Katz steps down as president of ABC Sports at the end of next week.

Bodenheimer has spent 22 years at ESPN, serving as president since 1998. He has been credited with playing a key role in landing last year's six-year rights deal with the NBA.

ABC Television president Alex Wallau said yesterday that consolidating control of ABC Sports and ESPN will improve the two networks' ability to acquire sports rights. The first test of that will come in June, when bidding begins on cable and broadcast rights to the 2010 (winter) and 2012 (summer) Olympic games. Under the new arrangement, both television sports assets of The Walt Disney Company will be under his direction.

Katz joined ESPN in 1993 and was promoted to president of ABC Sports in 1999. His successes include bringing John Madden to Monday Night Football and securing or extending the television rights to the NBA, the PGA Tour, the British Open, the Indianapolis 500 and the college football Bowl Championship Series.

Speculation now has Katz joining the NFL Channel, which is headed by Steve Bornstein, former ABC Television president.

"After the past decade at ABC and ESPN, and more than 32 nonstop years in the TV sports business overall, I feel it's now time to consider new opportunities," Katz told press persons after putting in his papers. "The outstanding quality and reputation of ABC Sports is a direct reflection of the many people I've been privileged to work with in the sports division."

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