As expected Rich Ross, president of Disney Channels Worldwide, has succeeded Dick Cook as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

Effective immediately, Ross will oversee worldwide production, distribution and marketing for the company’s range of live-action and feature animated film labels, including Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Disney/Pixar.

Ross will also head Disney’s theatrical and music groups. Cook departed his post abruptly two weeks ago after 38 years at the studio.

Ross has been at Disney for 13 years, in which time he has created a slew of original programming and built the Disney brand with global franchises across multiple platforms.

“Rich has an outstanding record of creating high-quality family entertainment that delights audiences around the world,” Disney president and CEO Bob Iger said. “With his success in building the Disney brand across many of our businesses, his astute marketing sensibility, his proven ability in working effectively with talent and his skill at navigating complex global markets, I’m confident he’s the perfect leader for our studio group.”

“There has never been a better time to entertain our global audiences with high-quality and compelling content and introduce new characters that will become family favourites,” Ross said. “I look forward to working with Bob, the team at the studios and all of our Disney family towards that goal,” said Ross.

Under Ross’ stewardship the Disney Channels Worldwide division has grown to 94 channels and channel feeds in 163 countries in 32 languages, encompassing the flagship Disney Channel, the boy-focused Disney XD and Playhouse Disney for younger children.

He has also overseen the growth of Radio Disney, subscription VOD and and

Ross joined Disney in 1996 as Disney Channel’s senior vice-president of programming and production and rose through the ranks until he was named Disney Channel president in April 2004. Prior to his tenure at Disney, he was a member of the executive team that launched FX Networks and before that held several senior positions at Nickelodeon from 1986 to 1993.