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Dana Walden Touts ‘Complete Independence’ of ‘New Fox’ After Disney Merger

TCA 2018: Fox TV Group CEO sees pending mega-deal as a ”great opportunity“ for indie studios to get shows on her network

Though Dana Walden reportedly won’t stick around after Fox’s merger with Disney closes, she didn’t act like she had one foot out the door, spending a lot of time during Fox’s executive session at TCA touting “New Fox.”

Noting that Fox will be “the only network to operate with complete independence,” Walden said she wants the post-merger Fox to become the place that brings back independent studios. “We see this as great opportunity to get vibrant independent studios back on broadcast. Indies have gotten squeezed.”

Walden noted that five years ago, 16 new series on major networks came from independent studios, but that number fell to six this year.

“They’ll have more opportunity because the independents will be on a completely even playing field,” she said, specifically calling out Sony Picture TV, MGM, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. “We want to be their first choice among the Big 4 networks.” She noted that three of the past season’s top-rated series on broadcast — “Roseanne,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “This Is Us” all came from studios not affiliated with their networks.

“New Fox will be an aggressive buyer from all studios and top creators,” she said, adding that 90 percent of their development slate this past season came from their own studio, but that number will be reduced to 50 percent this year. Every new series they order, Fox will have a 50 percent ownership stake.

“Our long-term goal is a well rounded schedule with projects coming from anywhere,” said Walden.

But she may not be there to see it.

Walden, along with 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice and Fox Television Group chairman Dana Walden are expected to move to leadership roles at Disney-ABC Television Group an individual with knowledge of internal talks told TheWrap. While Rice is an almost certain get, Walden is still a maybe. The deal is expected to be close in the first half of 2019.

Walden remained coy about her future on Thursday, saying that no decision has been made in regards to the future for her or fellow Fox TV Group CEO Gary Newman. “Some things are still to be resolved, including the management structure at both companies and what the future holds for Gary and me,” she said, adding the intrigue over “New Fox” inspired a new drinking game called “business as usual.”

But she certainly put on a good poker face.