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A&E’s Zagin Rises to EVP

A&E Television Networks, under new CEO Abbe Raven, now has a familiar face in a new role overseeing all distribution and creative efforts.

A&E Network’s David Zagin, formerly senior vice president of affiliate sales and marketing, has been promoted to executive vice president of distribution for AETN, reporting to senior executive vice president Whitney Goit.

Zagin continues to oversee all domestic and Canadian distribution and local ad sales, affiliate marketing and video on demand for A&E, History Channel, Biography Channel, History International, Military History Channel, History Channel en Español and Crime & Investigation Network.

He adds oversight of AETN’s Creative Services Group, the in house marketing and advertising design and production team.

Zagin’s top priority is renewing distribution deals for staples A&E Network and History Channel, set to expire over the next couple of years.

AETN is seeking an unspecified increase in the combined license fee for A&E and History, now approximately 23 cents per customer. And it’s trying to bundle newer services — particularly Military History Channel and Crime & Investigation Channel — in with A&E and History in renewal deals, Zagin confirmed.

“We’re out there trying to secure increases, and [operators] are out they’re trying to manage their costs,” Zagin said. “The conversations have not gotten any easier. But what we have going for us is the brand strength of A&E, and we’ve had a very fair pricing model, which a lot of operators have respected over the years.”

He said carriage talks are underway with several MSOs, but would not name them.

Flagship A&E — riding reality shows Dog the Bounty Hunter, Airline and Growing Up Gotti — has stemmed the ratings slide suffered after it lost the Law & Order franchise in 2002 and lowered its median viewer age from around 60 in 2003 to 50 in 2004, executives say.