Channing Dungey Becomes The First Black President At A Major US Broadcast Network

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Well now here’s a bit of awesome news which very appropriately falls within Black History Month. TV executive Channing Dungey has officially become the first black president at any major broadcast network! From her previous role as Vice President of Drama Development, Channing is now the president of entertainment at ABC and she is ready to shake things up!

Channing was responsible for the development of hit shows such as ‘Scandal’, ‘How To Get Away With Murder‘ and ‘Quantico’, all three of which star minority women as lead roles. It should also be noted that ABC is the home of many of Shonda Rhimes’ shows, which has widely been thought of as the reason for more diversity being shown on other networks.

The announcement was made by Ben Sherman, co-chairman of Disney Media networks.

“I’m thrilled and humbled that Ben has entrusted me with this tremendous opportunity. And I am truly grateful to Paul for being a valued mentor and friend. I’ve had the great honor of working alongside the talented team at ABC for many years and look forward to starting this exciting new chapter with them,” Channing said in a statement about her history-making promotion.

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Entertainment Weekly reports the change in leadership has been expected for a while with the news that ABC’s ratings have dipped to last place among the top 4 broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX).

Fun fact about Channing, she is the sister of actress Merrin Dungey who can be seen in one of the shows Channing helped develop ‘Once Upon A Time’, as well as ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’. She is a UCLA grad who joined the network in 2009. Channing began her career as a development assistant at 20th Century Fox-based Davis Entertainment, and did stints at other companies including Steamroller Productions and Warner Bros, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

It is welcome news in an industry that is still struggling to portray equality both in front of and behind the camera, yet it is widely accepted that TV is doing a far better job than the film industry. Channing Dungey’s appointment now puts her in a position within the industry to be a role model and advocate for diversity, a burden which is expected for someone breaking gender barriers.

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ABC has been someone of a leader in diverse entertainment with the aforementioned shows as well as ‘Black-ish’ and ‘Fresh Off The Boat’, but with the growing popularity of digital streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon which have proved to be a welcome place for content not normally seen on mainstream TV (think ‘Orange Is The New Black’, or ‘Transparent’) networks will have to re-think their strategies in order to reach new audiences that now have options outside the “Big Four” networks.

In an interview with Deadline about her new job, Channing says she will be using her position to push for shows that continue to reflect a wider demographic of the audience.

“Diversity is enormously important to me. It was part of my mission in my old role and we will continue to be as diverse as we possibly can — both in front of and behind the camera – going forward. It makes sense from a storytelling perspective, it makes sense in terms of reflecting the world that we live in. And it also makes really good business sense,” she said.

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We have high hopes for what her presidency will accomplish at ABC, and it’s clear she has some important support from her bosses as well as others in the industry.

“Channing is the right leader at the right time. She’s a magnet for talent. She works easily and well with everyone at Disney|ABC and across our Company. She’s well respected and well liked throughout Hollywood, which is no small accomplishment. She’s a smart and savvy business executive. She’s the total package. And when it comes to the challenges ahead, she is more than ready for that task,” said Ben Sherwood about his new Entertainment Chief.

Here’s to women breaking barriers, and making the entertainment industry a place where women, people of color and other minorities usually excluded from mainstream conversations can have their voices heard.

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