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Nancy Dubuc Steps Down From A&E, in Advanced Talks to Become CEO of Vice

By Published on .

Nancy Dubuc, president and chief executive officer of A&E Networks, during a keynote event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Nancy Dubuc, president and chief executive officer of A&E  Networks, during a keynote event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Nancy Dubuc stepped down as CEO of A&E Networks on Monday and is in advanced talks to become CEO of Vice Media.

Abbe Raven, who was Dubuc's predecessor, will return as acting chair until a successor is found, according to A&E Networks. Raven had retired in 2015 after more than three decades at the company.

"Anyone who knows me well knows I am an entrepreneur, creator, rebel and disruptor at heart," Dubuc said in a statement. "I have a famous neon sign in my office that blares 'Who dares wins.' After 20 years at A+E, the hardest thing will be to leave the people and company I love. But, as a creative executive and leader, and to stay true to my personal mantra, I need my next dare and my next challenge."

Dubuc is nearing a deal with Vice to take the reins from Shane Smith, the company's co-founder, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Smith has long talked about his desire to step away from day-to-day management and focus more on content and deal-making, as he told the Financial Times in early 2015. The liklihood that it will finally happen, however, comes amid recent upheaval at the company. The New York Times in December reported on several complaints of sexual assault and harassment at Vice as well as a "boys' club" culture. In late January, Vice said Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano, who had been on leave during an internal investigation after he was named in the Times story, would not be returning. The company's president, Andrew Creighton, who was also named in the story, has been under investigation for roughly two months.

Vice and Vogue last month put a fledgling content collaboration on hold, just four months after announcing it. Ally Financial, a digital bank based in Detroit, earlier said it has paused its relationship with Vice following the misconduct allegations.

If a deal is reached, Smith is expected to remain at the company. A Vice spokesman declined to comment.

A&E, which is owned by Heart and Walt Disney, is a partner in Viceland, the cable channel. Viceland has struggled to find an audience since it debuted in March 2016, averaging just 98,500 viewers in prime time.

While Dubuc's tenure has been marked by hits like A&E's "Duck Dynasty" and History's "Pawn Stars," it's failed to find big hits in recent years. It's also dealing with the same headwinds facing the entire TV industry, which is suffering long-term erosion in traditional ratings.

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