NEW YORK In what may have been the worst-kept secret of the summer, A&E Television Networks is officially acquiring Lifetime Entertainment Services, per terms of a three-handed arrangement among Disney-ABC Television, Hearst Corporation and NBC Universal.
Once the deal closes, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network will be brought into the A&E fold, with AETN president and CEO Abbe Raven assuming oversight of the three major network properties (A&E, History and Lifetime Nets). The brands will remain intact.
In a statement released, the parties involved said that the three current network heads will retain their positions upon finalization of the deal. As such, Andrea Wong, president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, will continue to lead the two Lifetime ventures, while Bob DeBitetto and Nancy Dubuc will serve as president and general manager of their respective properties. (DeBitetto runs A&E and The Biography Channel, while Dubuc is the skipper of History.)
All three execs will report directly to Raven.
Prior to the deal, Disney-ABC TV and Hearst each held a 37.5 percent stake in AETN, while NBC Universal controlled the remaining 25 percent. Once the dust settles, Disney and Hearst will each hold a 43.75 percent stake, while NBC will own 12.5 percent.
Lifetime is presently a 50-50 joint venture between Hearst and Disney.