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Disney names Net division head

The Walt Disney Company appoints former ESPN chief and ABC president Steven Bornstein as chairman of Buena Vista Internet Group, the company's Internet division.

The Walt Disney Company today appointed former ESPN chief and ABC president Steven Bornstein as chairman of Buena Vista Internet Group (BVIG), the company's Internet division.

Bornstein will fill a position vacated in June with the departure of BVIG chairman Jake Winebaum. Winebaum left to start an Internet venture capital firm called eCompanies with Sky Dayton, cofounder of Internet See news analysis: Will Disney's Go Network pay off? service provider EarthLink.

The appointment comes as Disney plans to spin off its Internet properties--which include Disney.com, ESPN.com, ABCNews.com, and Family.com--as a separate company called Go.com.

Disney's Web strategy centers on the Go Network Web portal, which it launched in January after taking a 43 percent stake in Web search directory Infoseek last year. Disney in July said it would buy the 57 percent of Infoseek that it doesn't already own, combining that stake with its existing Internet assets.

Bornstein will oversee Disney's buyout of Infoseek, as well as the creation of a Go.com tracking stock.

With his appointment, Bornstein also replaces Infoseek chief executive Harry Motro as head of the Go Network. Motro will leave the company when Disney's acquisition of Infoseek closes late this year.

"Steve brings invaluable experience and a broad range of skills to his new position: entrepreneur, new media pioneer, television executive, strategist, and business leader," Disney chief executive Michael Eisner said in a statement.

Bornstein joined ESPN in 1980 and became ESPN chief executive in 1990. He switched to ABC in 1993 and was named president of ABC in February of this year.