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CW names former ABC big shot Pedowitz president

April 28, 2011 | 11:30 am

The CW Network has tapped a former senior ABC executive as its new president.

Mark Pedowitz, who spent five years as president of ABC Studios before becoming an independent producer, is joining the CW -- a joint venture between Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. and CBS Corp. -- just weeks before it announces a new fall schedule to advertisers. Dawn Ostroff, who has served as president of entertainment for the broadcast network since it launched in 2006, is resigning next month to relocate from Los Angeles to New York.

PEDOWITZ The CW, which was born out of the merger of CBS' UPN and Time Warner's WB networks, targets its programs primarily toward the 18-34 demographic, with a particular focus on women. Its most popular shows include "Gossip Girl," about rich kids in New York City, and "The Vampire Diaries." The network often gets heat from media watchdogs for its racy content and portrayal of sexually active teens.

Compared with other broadcast networks, the CW has a relatively small audience. This season, it is averaging about 2 million viewers in prime time, which is flat with last season. Among adults 18-34, its prime audience has fallen 11% this season to 675,000. The CW only programs 10 hours a week and does not offer any shows on the weekend.

The CW often counters that its ratings don't take into account the amount of viewing done online. The network is very aggressive when it comes to putting its content on digital platforms.

One of the concerns its corporate bosses have had is not so much with the network's target audience as much as worries that there is a certain sameness to many of its shows, which rely heavily on unusually attractive casts leading particularly glamorous lives.

In an interview, Pedowitz said he did not plan to radically overhaul the CW's programming strategy. He hinted that he might try to broaden its appeal slightly within its core demographic.

"I’m not going to upset the apple cart," he said.

Even though Pedowitz is joining the CW after it has ordered pilots for next season, he said he will be involved in the schedule process and in the presentation of the new lineup to advertisers in New York in mid-May. Ostroff will handle much of the heavy lifting for the next few weeks.

Known primarily as a business executive and a lawyer by training, Pedowitz was something of a surprise choice. However, the parent companies indicated that they wanted more of a deal-maker in their next president, people familiar with the network's operations said.

Although the there has been speculation about the long-term commitment of CBS and Time Warner to the CW, Pedowitz said he would not have taken the job if he did not think the partners were in it for the long term.

Pedowitz is succeeding Ostroff, but he will also have broader responsibilities in the CW's business operations than she did. Ostroff oversaw entertainment operations while John Maatta, the network's chief operating officer, handled business affairs, and both reported to a board composed of CBS and Warner Bros. executives. Now Maatta will report to Pedowitz.

It is also expected that Thom Sherman, who oversees the CW's drama programs, will get a broader title down the road.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Mark Pedowitz. Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS.

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