AMC Networks said that Josh Sapan, president and CEO of the company for 26 years, has decided to step down and become executive vice chairman.
As part of a transition plan, the company has brought in former Showtime head Matthew Blank as interim CEO while the company searches for a replacement.
“Over his long career, Josh’s leadership ensured AMC Networks became a force in entertainment, with far-reaching influence throughout the industry, and home to some of the most successful and innovative shows in the history of television. We are grateful for his vision, creativity and management expertise and look forward to his continued contributions as executive vice chairman,” said AMC Networks chairman James Dolan.
“We are also delighted to have Matt help us through this transition. His wealth of media experience will prove valuable as he works with Josh and the AMC Networks team to support the company’s continued success,” Dolan said.
During his tenure, Sapan, 70, oversaw the transition of AMC Networks to a destination for award-winning original programming including Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, and is now in the process of getting the company into the streaming game with focused subscription services including AMC Plus, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK.
Sapan became head of the company in 1995 when it was a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems known as Rainbow Media.
“This has been the greatest career I could have ever imagined, and I am enormously proud of all that we have accomplished. I am deeply grateful to Charles and Jim Dolan for allowing me this spectacular opportunity,” said Sapan. “There has perhaps been no more exciting time for the company than right now and, as executive vice chairman, I look forward to continuing to work with the outstanding team at AMC Networks, as well as Matt, my great colleague and friend, to focus on how we maximize our unique content to accelerate our streaming goals.”
Sapan's most recent contract with AMC had a provision that allowed him to transition to executive VP. The agreement calls for AMC to acquires at least three films submitted by Sapan for $900,000 each, with the company getting the rights to exhibit, televise and stream the films.
He received total compensation of $11.8 million in 2020.
Blank, 71, was CEO at Showtime from 1995 to 2015. He continued as chairman and then adviser until 2018. Before that he was with HBO for 12 years.
According to a filing with the SEC, Blank's new one-year contract takes effect Sept. 8. Blank will get a base salary of $2 million, with a bonus targeted at 200% of his base salary. He also received stock units valued at $5 million.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.