David Westin is resigning from his position as president of ABC News, which he's held since 1997, apparently because of a "long-running conflict... over the financial standing of the news division." Of course! Want to read his resignation note?
The Times' Bill Carter broke the news on Monday night, citing "top staff members" who said that Westin would resign on Tuesday. But apparently Westin decided to go a little earlier, and sent the below email to staffers on Monday evening (you can also read ABC Television head Anne Sweeney's note).
The resignation appears to have been about—what else?—an inability to make the news division profitable (even though Good Morning America is bringing in "boatloads of money," thanks to Sam Champion's ultra-profitable drug-smuggling ring). ABC has already committed to firing as much as a quarter of its staff, but—among other things—lacks a cable news channel (a la NBC's MSNBC or Fox's Fox News) to help it cut costs (no, ABC Family is not news).
It's unclear who will replace Westin, who's staying until the end of the year, though Sweeney says the replacement will be announced "in the near future." Whoever it is will probably fire everyone who's left and just put on Sports Center in the old Nightline spot.
From: Sweeney, Anne X.
Sent: Monday, September 06, 2010 9:05 PM
Subject: David Westin's Transition
For the past 13 years, David proved himself a tireless advocate for ABC News, effectively guiding the group through some of the most seismic industry, and divisional, changes imaginable. During that time, he helped reinvent our News organization, and positioned us for great success going forward. While it will be sad to see David leave, his desire to pursue other professional endeavors is understandable, and commendable, and I know you'll join me in wishing him nothing but the best. I'll be announcing a new leader for ABC News in the near future.
Here is a copy of David's original email.
From: Westin, David L.
Sent: Monday, September 06, 2010 5:47 PM
To: ABCTV News ALL
A month ago I told Bob Iger and Anne Sweeney that the time has come for me to step down as President of ABC News. Leading you has been a great privilege and a solemn responsibility — a responsibility that I tried to fulfill for over thirteen years by doing what I believed was best for this important news organization. I will root for your continued success long after I am gone.
I've always admired those few who know when it's time to move on. This is the right time for me. Over the last nine months, we've put in place new anchors on all of our programs. At the same time, we went through a very difficult transformation made necessary by changes in our business and its economics. I am confident ABC News is better positioned for the future than it has been at any time since I came here in March of 1997.
As rewarding as I've found my time here, there are some other things I want to do professionally — things that I cannot explore while fulfilling my responsibilities here. I'm announcing my decision now so that I can pursue those possibilities, something I couldn't do in fairness to all of you until I'd told you of my plans to step down. I have agreed to remain your leader through the end of the year to ensure that Anne has the time she needs to find the right successor and that there is an orderly transition. So, I'm not going anywhere for the time being. I will need your support during this interim period to make sure that we continue to move forward.
I have only the highest regard for the company of which we are a part, for its leadership, and – most important – for all of you. I am grateful for your letting me be part of this great organization for so long.