ABC's Channing Dungey Is the First Black President of a Major Network

Channing Dungey (right) at the 2014 Emmy Awards
Channing Dungey (right) at the 2014 Emmy Awards

Finally, we have a black woman running a major network. Channing Dungey has been promoted to replace Paul Lee as head of ABC entertainment, making her the first black person in such a position.


The appointment comes after much contention between Lee—who reportedly resigned form his post—and ABC executives over the network’s poor ratings and failing new programs like The Muppets and Wicked City. The New York Times describes the tension as “a long-running internal battle among ABC executives over creative control and future strategy.”

Dungey’s record as ABC’s head of drama includes work on Scandal and Once Upon a Time. The Hollywood Reporter refers to her as an ABC veteran known by many as the Shonda Rhimes whisperer.”

In his six years, Lee had a reputation for promoting diverse programming at ABC, including How to Get Away with Murder, Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish. NYT reports:

A decision to concentrate on soapy dramas on Thursday nights — advertised as “T.G.I.T.,” or Thank God It’s Thursday — was well received, with Mr. Lee’s profile on Disney’s corporate website joking that he even improved sales of “red wine and popcorn” in the process.

Dungey will hopefully continue that tradition. From THR:

Dungey has long been seen internally as an executive on the rise. The UCLA grad joined the network in 2009, and before that worked for sibling ABC Studios. Though her credits include a range of shows including critically beloved American Crime and one-time ratings heavyweight Once Upon a Time, her biggest success has been her fruitful relationship with Rhimes.


In a statement, Disney-ABC president Ben Sherwood called Dungey “a gifted leader and a proven magnet for top creative talent, with an impressive record of developing compelling, breakthrough programming.”

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