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Dubuc ‘in Vice talks’ after A+E exit

Nancy Dubuc is stepping down from her role as CEO and president of A+E Networks and is in talks to take the top job at Vice Media, potentially replacing co-founder and current chief Shane Smith.

Nancy Dubuc

Dubuc has been at Disney- and Hearst-backed A+E for almost two decades and has been CEO for the past five, overseeing networks including A&E, History, Lifetime and FYI, as well as global division A+E Networks International.

Until a permanent replacement is found, her role will be overseen by former A+E CEO Abbe Raven, who becomes acting chair having retired in 2015 after more than 30 years with the company.

A+E has been a strong performer for much of the past decade but its networks have suffered over recent years, with increasing numbers of cable subscribers being lost to SVoD services.

A&E and History, however, have performed better more recently with the latter shifting into scripted programming alongside its factual fare.

Dubuc, who leaves A+E on April 16, joined the company’s History channel in 1999 and swiftly moved up the pecking order. During her reign as CEO, she launched production division A+E Studios, which has been behind shows such as Six and the reboot of Roots, and worked with Smith on Vice’s US network Viceland.

Viceland was launched in the US in 2016 as a joint venture between Vice and A+E, although it has failed to capture a significant audience thus far. The Canadian version of the network has also struggled, with local partner Rogers Media terminating its JV in January.

Dubuc has been linked with several high-profile jobs recently, including the top role at Amazon Studios following Roy Price’s departure. That eventually went to former NBC Entertainment chief Jennifer Salke. Her talks with Vice were reported by Variety, which broke the news of her forthcoming A+E exit.

Shane Smith

Smith and Vice, meanwhile, have been embroiled in a string of allegations of inappropriate behaviour, first reported by The New York Times, that have resulted in an array of its top execs leaving the company.

Andrew Creighton, who co-founded the UK division of Vice in 2002 and became president of the company in 2011, was suspended following allegations, while chief digital officer Mike Germano was sacked in January.

The company, which is backed by corporate giants such as Disney (10%) and 21st Century Fox (5%), has also struggled to hit revenue projections.

Hearst president and CEO Steven Swartz and Disney/ABC TV’s president Ben Sherwood confirmed Dubuc’s exit.

“In her roughly 20 years at A+E Networks, Nancy played a major role in building the success of A&E, History and Lifetime, and we thank her for her leadership.”

Dubuc added: “Together, we have had the privilege to build some of the most iconic brands in media. Every step of my career, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow from some of the most inspiring and innovative minds at A+E and in both the creative and business community. I could not be prouder of what we achieved together.”

She did not acknowledge reports regarding Vice, but said: “As a creative executive and leader, and to stay true to my personal mantra, I need my next dare and my next challenge.

“Anyone who knows me well knows I am an entrepreneur, creator, rebel and disruptor at heart. I have a famous neon sign in my office that blares, ‘Who dares wins.’ After 20 years at A+E, the hardest thing will be to leave the people and company I love.”

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