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Jeff Zucker Recruits Cable Vet Albie Hecht to Run HLN

Exec with kidvid, entertainment background to run CNN sibling channel

Albie Hecht has been named exec VP and g.m. of HLN, effective September 30, the network announced today.

Hecht is currently CEO of the digital entertainment studio Worldwide Biggies, but before that he was the president of Nickelodeon Entertainment and one of the founders of Spike TV. In his new position, Hecht will oversee all aspects of HLN’s programming, management, day-to-day operations, as well as HLNtv.com

Hecht will be based in New York and report to Jeff Zucker, who made the announcement today by saying, “Albie is one of the most creative executives in our industry. His diverse experiences at Viacom gave him a keen understanding of cable television, where he created some of media’s most well known brands and franchises. All of that, coupled with his lifelong passion for news and information, makes him the perfect fit for HLN.”

In accepting the role, Hecht said, “Three key factors made the decision to join HLN easy: the opportunity to further evolve a noted brand, reinvent news in a digital age and work for Jeff, an industry giant. Creating engaging and buzzed about content across multiple platforms is in my DNA, and I am excited to make magic with the talented team at HLN.”

The hire may raise questions about HLN’s ultimate direction.  In the past several years, the network has moved from offering a digest of the day’s news to sporting more personality-driven programming featuring hosts like Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell as well as intense coverage of buzzy legal cases wending through the nation’s court system.

But the architects of that strategy, Ken Jautz and, more recently, Scot Safon, are no longer with the network. Jautz, who gave Glenn Beck his TV-news start, is now exec veep of CNN’s U.S. operations. Safon, a veteran of CNN parent Turner Broadcasting, left the Time Warner unit in August.

Hecht’s strength is in entertainment, not TV news, or even commentary and opinion. An HLN spokeswoman said Hecht and Zucker were not available for comment.

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