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Carolina Lightcap named president of Disney Channels Worldwide

November 25, 2009|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Carolina Lightcap, senior vice president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Latin America, has been named president of Disney Channels Worldwide.
Carolina Lightcap, senior vice president and chief creative officer of… (Veronica Gambini / Walt…)

Walt Disney Co., in a move that many in the industry didn't foresee, tapped an executive with extensive international experience to run the Disney Channel, underscoring the role of global markets in the network's future.

Carolina Lightcap, credited with building Disney Channel into one of Latin America's top cable networks, Tuesday was named president of Disney Channels Worldwide. She succeeds Rich Ross, who left in October to take over as chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

Many speculated that the top Disney Channel job would go to its entertainment chief, Gary Marsh, a well-regarded executive responsible for developing several successful Disney properties, including "Hannah Montana" and "High School Musical." But Marsh signaled that he wasn't interested in running the network's business operations, according to people familiar with the matter. Marsh was given the newly created title of chief creative officer and will report to Lightcap.

The appointment of Lightcap, 42, an executive who has spent years working outside the U.S. but has a limited background in Hollywood, points to the emphasis Disney is placing on overseas markets for Disney Channel growth, analysts said.

"We sometimes forget that for the studios, the non-U.S. market is certainly larger and definitely faster-growing than the U.S. market," said Larry Gerbrandt, principal in the market research firm Media Valuation Partners. "Someone who understands the non-U.S. market can probably help drive international growth faster and identify the markets with the greatest opportunity."

As the senior vice president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Latin America, Lightcap helped expand Disney Channel in a region that had little cable or satellite infrastructure and where many homes could not afford pay-TV programming. She also contended with the region's cultural and linguistic differences by launching "High School Musical"-themed talent competitions on the channel in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to cast local versions of the movie.

"Her wealth of experience, leadership acumen, and programming, marketing and franchise building skills make her the ideal executive to lead Disney Channels Worldwide into the future," Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks, said in a statement.

Before joining Disney as vice president of marketing in 2000, Lightcap worked for Sky Latin America Partners, a satellite television service, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, where she was responsible for marketing of newly released videos.

dawn.chmielewski@

latimes.com

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