History buff: Dubuc tapped channel head

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A&E Television Networks has tapped Nancy Dubuc to head up the History Channel, replacing Dan Davids, who is leaving the company at year's end.

Dubuc has been named executive vp and general manager of History, where she will be responsible for strategic planning, programming, consumer marketing and brand development. She also will oversee History International, the History Channel en Espanol and Military History Channel.

Meanwhile, Davids, a 22-year company veteran who has been History's president since 2004, is leaving his post Dec. 31. AETN president and CEO Abbe Raven said Davids' departure is voluntary; it's unclear what his plans are.

Dubuc joined A&E Network in 2003 as vp nonfiction and alternative programming and worked her way up the ranks, most recently serving as senior vp nonfiction programming and new-media content. Dubuc, who joined AETN in 1999, had been director of historical programming at History, working with then-network chief Raven.

Raven praised Dubuc's background in nonfiction and her "understanding of the brand," saying, "She has her finger on the pulse of pop culture."

Said Raven: "(Dubuc's promotion) ties together our strength in historical subject matter with nonfiction programming and also pop culture. Our goal is to make History Channel the definitive source of history across multiple platforms. What Nancy will continue to do for us is make History Channel and its brand a 360-degree experience, very much in the way that ESPN does for sports."

Raven and Dubuc said there are no plans for a change in programming strategy.

"History Channel has an incredibly valuable and strategic audience composition, and we'll continue to grow that, but there will be no radical programming changes," Dubuc said. "My background hopefully brings renewed energy in terms of the creative community coming to History Channel with new ideas and different approaches and ways of thinking about things."

At A&E, Dubuc spearheaded the development and production of several of the network's top-rated series, including "Dog the Bounty Hunter," "Intervention," "Dallas SWAT," "Criss Angel: Mindfreak" and "Inked," which have helped boost ratings and lower the network's median viewer age. In 2004, she created and developed the "A&E Lifestyle" block and launched the A&E IndieFilms unit.

Meanwhile, Raven also praised Davids, saying he "has had a vital role in launching and creating some of the best brands on television."

Davids joined AETN in 1984, its inaugural year. In 2000, he was named executive vp and general manager of A&E; he and Raven, then executive vp and general manager of History, switched jobs in 2002. Both were upped to president in 2004. During Davids' tenure, History surpassed 90 million subscribers and garnered 13 Emmys.

Year-to-date, History is averaging 1.06 million total viewers in primetime, down 5% from last year.
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