Disney's Eisner tags No. 2 Iger as the successor

MUMBAI: Disney's CEO Michael Eisner has finally broken his silence and has anointed company's second-in-command, the president and COO, Bob Iger as his successor.

In the protracted fight to oust Eisner from control of Disney, a chief complaint about the longtime chairman was that he had refused to name a successor. The news comes months after the ouster movement failed to entirely uproot Eisner.

Eisner, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, said that Iger was his choice to take over the media and entertainment empire at his retirement, which could come in 2006 when his contract expires.

According to media reports, Eisner is quoted as saying about Iger that, "There's nobody who has a better education and training to do that job."

While Iger has responded favourably, as has told Times. "I have a right to be taken seriously. I feel I know the company well. I have the knowledge. There comes a time when it's appropriate to say, 'Hey, this is a job I'm interested in.' "

But all depends on how seriously Disney board will take suggestion and how well both Eisner and Iger do over the coming year, the reports indicate.

In March, Eisner was effectively demoted from chairman and CEO to CEO as a defensive measure by the board to prevent his full ouster when a huge no-confidence vote was delivered by major stockholders at the company's annual meeting.

But there are likely to be some conflicting views as the reports indicate that the former No. 2 at Viacom, Mel Karmazin is also being considered for the post, the reports indicates.

The reports indicate that the biggest barrier to Iger's claim to the CEO slot will be his performance overseeing ABC, thus far. ABC has finished fourth among households and adults 18-49 last season, dipping 19 percent versus the previous year among 18-49s. A big part of the problem, has been the tendency of both Eisner and Iger to micro-manage, often with disastrous results.

But the network has been widely hailed for its new programming slate for the 2004-'05 season, which may be the strongest of any network based purely on content and a strong cookie point for Iger, indicate the reports.

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