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A&E is a cable and satellite television network with headquarters in Manhattanmarker and offices in Stamfordmarker, Atlantamarker, Detroitmarker, Los Angelesmarker, Chicagomarker, and Londonmarker. A&E stands for Arts & Entertainment, which, for many years, was in the channel's full title. The network also airs in Canadamarker and Latin America.

Description and programming

The channel, which originally focused programming on biographies, documentaries, and drama series (especially crime dramas and mysteries), and has expanded to include reality television programming, reaches more than 85 million homes in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker. A&E is a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation (37.5% ownership), The Walt Disney Company (37.5%), and NBC Universal (25%). The network is a result of a merger in 1984 between Hearst/ABC's Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) and (pre-General Electric merger) RCA-owned The Entertainment Channel.

The A&E channel is the flagship of the A&E Television Networks group, which also includes The History Channel and The Biography Channel. It had often shown programming from abroad, particularly BBC network productions from the United Kingdommarker. Examples of British programming prominently broadcast on the channel include documentary Freud.

However, the use of British programming has diminished greatly since A&E began scheduling more reality shows. For example, the network waited almost a year and a half to show the fourth season of MI-5, programmed it after prime time on Friday nights at 11pm Eastern, then stopped showing it after only two episodes, and programmed the rest of the season in one day on October 21, 2006.

Its fine arts programs have also been completely retired. Thursday nights once featured an anthology series called A&E Stage, hosted by John Mauceri, which featured telecasts of notable plays, concerts, full-length documentaries related to the arts, and complete operas, although shown with commercials. Such programs as Otto Schenk's 1978 production of Fidelio, with Leonard Bernstein conducting, were rebroadcast on this anthology. The final fine arts-related show to air on the network, Breakfast with the Arts, once featured a higher quantity of classical music than in its final years, and fewer interviews. The show was cancelled in July 2007.

History

Nickelodeon run (1981-1985)

In 1984, when A&E debuted, the channel took over the satellite transponder timeslot that one of its predecessors, ARTS, occupied from its launch in 1981. Children's television channel Nickelodeon signed off just before 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and ARTS (later A&E) took over at 9:00 p.m. with a three hour programming block, repeated at 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time. In 1985 A&E moved to its own dedicated transponder to deliver 24 hour programming, and Nickelodeon added its Nick at Nite fare.

Recent developments

Between 2003 and 2007, the channel gradually retired several long-running series, moving Murder, She Wrote and Agatha Christie's Poirot to The Biography Channel and cancelling Breakfast with the Arts, in favor of reality programming such as Dog The Bounty Hunter, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Growing Up Gotti, Family Plots, Airline, Inked, King of Cars, and Criss Angel Mindfreak. In addition, A&E has garnered favorable notice for "true-crime" documentary series such as Cold Case Files, American Justice, City Confidential, Investigative Reports, and The First 48. The station has also cut back on its broadcasts of Biography from originally twice daily to weekend mornings only. Notably, the station also retired its long-held slogan "Time Well Spent." The changes are apparently an attempt to lure higher ratings, as reality programs have done for other stations. However, the changes have been criticized as causing A&E to become an aberration of its original focus on fine arts programming.A&E's most-watched program was the docudrama Flight 93, about the hijacking of the plane which crashed in Pennsylvaniamarker during the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to Nielsen, the program attracted 5.9 million viewers for its initial telecast on January 30, 2006. The previous record-holder for the network was a World War II docudrama, "Ike: Countdown to D-Day", starring Tom Selleck and broadcast in 2004, with 5.5 million viewers. A&E has acquired rerun rights to The Sopranos from HBO. The program has garnered very good ratings for the network, as its A&E premiere on January 10, 2007 averaged 3.86 million viewers, making it the most-watched premiere of a rerun off-network series in cable television history. The series has continued to perform well for A&E, and the network now regularly ranks in the top ten basic U.S. cable channels in prime time ratings. On February 20, 2008, A&E announced that they will beresuming production on Dog the Bounty Hunter which was cancelled after Duane "Dog" Chapman was caught on tape using the word "nigger" and his son sold it to the National Enquirer.On May 14, 2008, A&E announced that Dog the Bounty Hunter returns to the air on June 25, 2008.

A&E has stated that they will be filming Season 4 of Gene Simmons Family Jewels.

On Memorial Day in 2008 in conjunction with the premiere of the original film The Andromeda Strain, A&E rebranded with a new logo and slogan, Real Life. Drama., with the new logo using a thin Helvetica font which has a look resembling the older logo, along with a full-size ampersand equal to the letters, and a visual style equivalent to the logo for USA Network.

As part of its continuing efforts to include more scripted shows, A&E has ordered several dramas for Fall 2009. Among them will be projects from Jerry Bruckheimer, Shawn Ryan and Lynda Obst, and a western miniseries from Kevin Costner. Several unscripted series have also been renewed or ordered for fall, including Intervention, The First 48, Gene Simmons: Family Jewels, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Crime 360, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Paranormal State, Manhunters and Parking Wars.

NBC Universal was considering adding Lifetime to the partnership of A&E Television Networks. On August 27, 2009, AETN bought Lifetime.

A&E HD

A&E HD is a 720p high definition simulcast of A&E Network that launched on September 4, 2006. It has found a home on many cable and satellite systems in Canada but was until recently rare in the US. However, A&E HD is in the process of becoming more widely available in the United States, since Comcast, the largest US cable provider, is expanding the number of systems including A&E HD in its lineup in preparation of greater competition from HD satellite service. A&E HD is notable for being one of several cable networks stretching standard definition content horizontally to fill the display area of widescreen HDTVs, rather than preserving the original aspect ratio of 4:3.

See also



Notes

  1. MediaPost Publications Home of MediaDailyNews, MEDIA and OMMA Magazines
  2. NBCU Looks for Lifetime Stake, Mediaweek, June 4, 2009
  3. Disney, Hearst, NBC in Talks on Cable Joint Venture, New York Times, June 4, 2009
  4. Disney, Hearst, NBC Universal Talk AETN Restructuring, Broadcasting & Cable, June 3, 2009
  5. A&E Acquires Lifetime, Variety.com, August 27, 2009
  6. A&E Networks, Lifetime Merger Completed, Broadcasting & Cable, August 27, 2009


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