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There’s a change at the top at History.
Network president and general manager Jana Bennett is departing the A+E Networks-owned cable channel after four years with the company, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The TV veteran is leaving to start her own production venture. The U.K. native’s company will be based in London and New York and focus on creating content for both British and American audiences.
A search is underway for Bennett’s replacement. In the meantime, History head of programming Paul Cabana and the rest of the channel’s team will report to A+E Studios president Paul Buccieri.
The departure comes four years after A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc recruited Bennett to oversee Bio channel’s rebranding to FYI. At the beginning of her tenure, Bennett also helped manage Lifetime Movie Networks. Bennett made the leap to History in 2015 when she replaced Dirk Hoogstra.
Bennett’s takeover at History came when the network was suffering double-digit ratings declines and struggling to find follow-ups to successful miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, as well as unscripted hits like Pawn Stars.
However, History currently ranks as A+E Networks’ top-rated channel. In addition to the continued strength of its unscripted slate, History has also begun to expand its scripted offerings, launching a second scripted series earlier this year with the Weinstein Co.-produced military drama Six. Six joins Vikings, which continues to pull solid numbers for the network. That series is getting to reboot itself after killing off several major characters in season four, and it will welcome Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a series regular in season five.
The cabler’s next major scripted venture is Knightfall, which hails from executive producer Jeremy Renner.
Read Dubuc’s memo below.
Nearly four years ago, Jana Bennett moved from London and joined A+E Networks to launch FYI. This spring, Jana came to me and told me that she wanted to split her time between London and NY and start a new entrepreneurial venture aimed at creating the best of British and American content for both markets.
I’m immensely grateful for the amazing job she has done here at A+E Networks. From launching FYI to wide acclaim, to growing LMN, to leading HISTORY back into growth and securing its position as a premium brand, Jana has been a valued member of the Management Team.
Over the last two years at HISTORY, Jana has built a strong lineup of historical documentary series and boosted its scripted slate, successfully launching Roots and Six. She has helped build a powerful pipeline of other new series, and with the very promising Knightfall coming later this year, is making HISTORY the destination for historically based drama.
Our company has benefited from the many formats and series developed under her watch including Married at First Sight, Seven Year Switch, the Tiny House franchise and Escaping Polygamy.
I am enormously grateful for the leadership, passion and commitment she has brought to A+E Networks. Please join me in wishing Jana all the best in her new endeavor.
Read Bennett’s memo below.
When I came to the U.S. to launch FYI and run LMN, I had no idea I would end up staying on to lead HISTORY. I’m very thankful to Nancy for giving me such amazing brands to run and I am hugely proud of what the talented teams at all three channels have achieved.
Now that HISTORY is back to growth, it’s time for me to start my next chapter. This was a difficult decision and Nancy was incredibly understanding about my desire to spend some of my time in the U.K. Having been lucky enough to have worked in media on both sides of the Atlantic, I’ll be leaving later this summer to set up my new venture based here and in London.
I am confident that HISTORY will go from strength to strength and will continue to tell stories that America and the rest of the world loves.
I will miss the many creative and talented people I’ve worked with inside A+E, as well as our fantastic partners in production and the many institutions that work with HISTORY. Thank you to everyone for making me feel so at home. I will remain a proud Brooklynite wherever I am based, but unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts in the A+E office, I STILL leave with a minimal understanding of U.S. sports!
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