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Two years of helping drive ratings improvement and lowering the network’s median viewing age has earned Bob DeBitetto the title of executive vice president and general manager of A&E Network.

DiBitetto, who joined A&E in 2003 and most recently served as executive vice president of programming, succeeds Abbe Raven as the network’s leader. When Nickolas Davatzes retired, Raven became CEO of A&E Television Networks.

DeBitetto is now responsible for A&E’s strategic planning, programming, consumer marketing, brand development, public relations and on-air promotions. He also oversees The Biography Channel and the fledgling Crime & Investigation Network.

Senior vice president of non-fiction and alternative programming Nancy Dubuc has also risen, adding the direction of the Biography franchise and Being, the new Mick Jagger-produced profile series.

DeBitetto’s overseen such real-life series additions as Dog the Bounty Hunter, Airline, Growing Up Gotti and Intervention that helped score a 40% ratings rise among adults 25 to 54 and a 62% jump in the 18-to-49 demo during his tenure. A&E has whittled the median age of its viewers to 49 from 60 in that time.

He has also been instrumental in A&E securing syndication deals for such top series as The Sopranos, 24 and CSI Miami. Those 2006 primetime fixtures are key to A&E’s plan to rank among the top five cable networks in its key demos.

“[DeBitetto] has been instrumental in the growth of our company. He’s the ideal candidate because he’s a strong strategic thinker, and a creative executive with a keen business sense,” Raven said. “He has his finger on the pulse of pop culture, which has been transferred to the network.”

DeBitetto earlier spent seven years in a variety of positions at Turner Broadcasting, including president of original programming. He also worked at Disney Motion Pictures Group.