NANCY DUBUC HEADSHOT A week before A&E TV Networks' upfront presentation, the company has finally firmed up Nancy Dubuc's Lifetime plans.

Dubuc has been named president and general manager of Lifetime Networks, while also continuing as president/G.M. of AETN's History brands. Dubuc's oversight of Lifetime has been expected since February (Daily Variety, Feb. 5), when previous Lifetime honcho Andrea Wong announced her exit.

But Dubuc had been long rumored for the job even before that, as speculation grew that Wong would depart in the wake of AETN's acquisition last year of Lifetime.

Wong had served as CEO — but that title has been eliminated, now that Lifetime is a part of AETN. Dubuc continues to report to AETN president/CEO Abbe Raven, who announced the appointment on Tuesday morning.

“Nancy is one of the most dynamic executives working in television. Her track record of success by focusing on a brand’s target audience and creating programming for them is extraordinary,” Raven said. “Nancy has great respect for the power of the Lifetime brand and I am confident she will lead the terrific team there to new heights.”   

Dubuc has a big job in front of her: Reviving Lifetime, which was once the No. 1 basic cable network, but has more recently fallen on tough times in the wake of fierce competition.

Lifetime ended 2009 far out of the top 10 in primetime — down 20% among viewers and down 17% in adults 18-49 vs. 2008, despite the "Project Runway" acquisition.

Lifetime is now in the process of trying to once again figure out its programming mix. The channel's female focus may be too niche in an era when channels such as TLC, A&E and Bravo have broadened out far beyond their original charters. Sensing this, Lifetime dropped its slogan "Television for Women" several years ago.

That's where Dubuc comes in. The exec has been hugely successful in broadening out History's audience, recently giving the channel a contemporary makeover.

Under her watch, the network has found success with series such as "Ice Road Truckers," "Pawn Stars," "Ax Men," "Life After People" and "How the Earth Was Made." Its special event "America The Story of US" just gave the cabler its biggest audience ever.  And History ended 2009 with its best ratings yet.

Dubuc will now be charged with bringing a similar makeover to Lifetime.

“I am incredibly honored to now lead the Lifetime team,” said Dubuc. “Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network are two of the most powerful and evocative brands on the media landscape. I am excited for the challenge to explore the unlimited potential of programming for women.”

Dubuc, who has run History since 2007, will handle both History's and Lifetime's brands, including programming, consumer marketing, strategic planning, publicity and brand development.

Before History, Dubuc was senior VP of programming at A&E Network, which she first joined in March 2003.

Wong, who had served as CEO of Lifetime Networks since 2007, was set to depart at the end of the month, when her three-year contract expired.

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