Leslie Moonves, the former chief executive of CBS who played a big role in the network’s programming decisions, was pushed out in September following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. NBC’s entertainment chairman, Robert Greenblatt, stepped down the same month following a successful run. And in October, Fox announced that the AMC executive Charlie Collier would become the new entertainment head at the broadcast network.
Change was already coming to the executive ranks at ABC and Disney because of the pending deal with Fox. Peter Rice, a three-decade veteran at Fox, will become the chairman of Walt Disney Television. Dana Walden, the current co-chief executive of the Fox television group, will become the chairwoman of Disney Television studios and ABC Entertainment.
Had Ms. Dungey stuck around, she would have reported to Ms. Walden. (Ben Sherwood, Ms. Dungey’s current boss and the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, will leave the company once the sale is closed.) Now, Ms. Burke will take that role.
Ms. Burke joined Freeform in 2014, and worked for years as a producer before that. In the mid-1990s through 2003, she was an executive at NBC.
Ms. Dungey rarely strayed from talking points in gatherings with the news media, but Ms. Burke has been freer in her public appearances. When asked last year at a television conference in Austin, Tex., what she thought of Netflix’s free-spending ways, Ms. Burke replied pointedly, “with disdain.”
She will have plenty of work to do at ABC. Though ratings continue to slide through all of television, ABC has seen the biggest dip this season among the broadcast networks, an uncomfortable position for a network already stuck in last. There will be one pressing issue to deal with right off the bat: Several of ABC’s successful comedies — “black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “American Housewife” and “Speechless” — have seen an alarming drop in the ratings in the opening two months of the season, according to Nielsen.
In a statement, Ms. Burke said, “ABC is a beloved brand, and I am honored to continue the legacy left by Channing of excellent storytelling that touches so many people’s hearts.”