Sapan to top Rainbow programming

Current CEO to head AMC Networks

Once Cablevision completes the spinoff of its programming unit Rainbow Media later this year, the latter will get a new name but have the same topper. Called AMC Networks, its chief will be Rainbow’s current CEO, Josh Sapan, the parent said Thursday.

“Much of the success of Rainbow over the past quarter century is due in no small part to Josh Sapan,” said Cablevision CEO James Dolan. “He has guided Rainbow’s growth for more than 20 years, overseeing the creation of some of the world’s most compelling television brands, and is the ideal executive to provide the leadership necessary as a new AMC Networks becomes a public company.”

In addition to AMC, the new company will include WE TV, IFC and the Sundance Channel.

“Rainbow owns and operates some of cable television’s most admired networks, and over the past three decades, AMC has become one of the most established of those brands, recognized by consumers, advertisers and investors alike,” Sapan said. “As we move forward, we want to capitalize on that strong brand awareness for what will be our new public company.”

If the hit show “Mad Men” hadn’t come along and helped propel the AMC brand into original programming, the company might be receiving a different name.

Sapan helped bolster programming at its then-holding the Bravo channel before overseeing its sale to NBC in 2002. Sapan may have the distinction of being the only top media executive who is a published poet, with works appearing in 20 literary journals.

The tax free spinoff to Cablevision shareholders is expected to be completed some time this summer. AMC Networks will join Scripps Networks Interactive and Discovery Communications among the few pure-play cable programming companies.