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Holden ankles USA net to veep MSNBC promos

Exec to increase visibility, devise promotion strategy

NEW YORK — MSNBC, eager to spread the word about its higher-visibility primetime series featuring the likes of Matt Lauer, Brian Williams, Chris Matthews and Ollie North, is about to sign veteran Mary Ellen Holden as its new head of marketing, advertising and promotion.

MSNBC declined comment, but sources say Holden has resigned as senior VP of marketing for USA Network and that she’ll report to her new VP job on April 3.

Despite a primetime lineup that features the magazine hour “Special Edition” at 8, “The News With Brian Williams” at 9 and the Matt Lauer-hosted biographical documentary “Headlines and Legends” at 10, MSNBC has remained stuck at a less-than-stellar 0.4 average primetime rating in cable homes.

Holden’s job, sources say, will be to ramp up the visibility of the lineup among cable and satellite viewers, and devise a strategy for cross promotion of the network’s primetime shows in other media.

MSNBC will also get the benefit of a potentially lucrative promotional platform for its various series when the network schedules well over 100 hours of Summer Olympics programming from Sydney over 18 days from mid- to late-September.

Before joining USA Network as VP and brand manager in 1996, Holden was VP of consumer products and new-business promotions for Nickelodeon. Earlier, she spent two years as director of worldwide marketing for Jim Henson Prods.

Holden will report to MSNBC prexy Eric Sorensen.

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