Disney/ABC Forms New Daytime Programming and Development Unit, Times Square Studios

Amid high-profile changes to the ABC daytime schedule and a forthcoming change in the Disney/ABC Television Group’s executive ranks, the network is forming a new unit to oversee its current daytime programming and develop new projects.

The unit, Times Square Studios, will focus its development efforts “primarily in the areas of non-scripted lifestyle and health for daytime and syndication,” according to a company release on the move.

Longtime ABC shows “The View,” “General Hospital” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” will fall under the purview of the new division, as will the new or forthcoming shows, ”The Chew,” “The Revolution,” “Katie,”  the Disney/ABC Television Group announcement said. “LIVE! with Kelly” will remain with the ABC Owned Television Stations Group division.

The executive directly overseeing the new unit will be Vicki Dummer, who will be promoted from senior vice president of Current Series & Specials, ABC Entertainment Group, to executive vice president of Times Square Studios, Current Series & Specials, the network said. She will continue to Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group.

The network also has announced that Brian Frons, president of Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, will depart the company in January 2012, though he will provide counsel to the new venture until then.

“I am honored, humbled and thrilled to have been entrusted with this new opportunity,” Dummer said. “Brian built an amazing team, and I’m looking forward to jumping into this new role.”

Frons noted, “While my decision to try something new was not arrived at easily, nine years is a long time in television terms. … I’ll miss my colleagues and the wonderful talent that makes our shows, but know they are in very capable hands with Vicki going forward.”

Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, lamented Frons departure but hailed the new structure for daytime programming.

“Brian Frons has been the driving force in our successful Daytime division since joining us in 2002, and while we understand his decision to leave at the end of his contract, we’re sad to see him go,” Sweeney said. “We took this opportunity to rethink our business, and the result was the creation of Times Square Studios,” she added. “Having it be part of the ABC Entertainment Group, under the supervision of proven executives Vicki Dummer and Paul Lee, provides us the opportunity to bring greater creative resources, development strength and operational flexibility to this key area of our business.”

In addition to the personnel moves involving Dummer and Frons, the network named two executives who will report to Dummer. Abra Potkin, a former CBS News and entertainment development executive, will be senior vice president, East Coast Programming & Development, Times Square Studios, and ABC Daytime veteran Ann Lewis Roberts will be senior vice president, West Coast Current Programming & Development, Times Square Studios.

ABC News and ABCNews.com are units of the Disney/ABC Television Group.