A&E (TV channel)
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)|
|Launched||February 1, 1984|
|Owned by||A&E Television Networks (Hearst Corporation (50%), Disney-ABC Television Group (50%))|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV/16:9 letterbox)
|Slogan||Real Life. Drama.|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, United States|
|Formerly called||Arts & Entertainment Network|
The Biography Channel
Lifetime Movie Network
Lifetime Real Women
|Dish Network||118 (HD/SD)
|Bell TV (Canada)||615 (SD)
|Shaw Direct (Canada)||520 (SD)
|Available on many cable systems in the US & Canada||Check local cable listings, channels may vary|
|Bell Fibe TV (Canada)||1615 (HD) 615 (SD)|
|Verizon FiOS||681(HD) 181 (SD)|
|AT&T U-verse||1132 (HD) 132 (SD)|
|Telus TV (Canada)||670 (HD) 170 (SD)|
A&E is a United States-based cable and satellite television channel with headquarters in New York City and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, London, Los Angeles and Stamford. A&E also airs in Canada, Australia and Latin America. Initially named the Arts & Entertainment Network, A&E launched February 1, 1984, to 9.3 million homes in the U.S. and Canada. In May 1995, the channel's name officially changed to the A&E Network, to reflect its declining focus on arts and entertainment. The network is now better known for shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter, Intervention, Storage Wars, Criss Angel Mindfreak and Paranormal State.
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 States and Canada. A&E is a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation (50% ownership) and The Walt Disney Company (50%). NBCUniversal was also a part of the joint venture, with Hearst and Disney each owning a 42.5% stake and NBCUniversal owning a 15% stake, but in July 2012, NBCUniversal confirmed plans to sell its 15.8% stake in A+E Networks to Disney and Hearst, who will become 50-50 partners in the joint venture. 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 Network is the flagship of the A&E Television Networks group, which also includes History and Biography Channel. It had often shown programming from abroad, particularly BBC network productions from the United Kingdom. Examples of British programming frequently broadcast on the channel include the 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 Tammy Grimes and later 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, as well as an adaption of Agatha Christie's Spider's Web, starring Penelope Keith, originally broadcast in the UK on December 26, 1982. 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.
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 p.m. Eastern Time, and A&E took over at 9 p.m. with a three-hour programming block, repeated at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. In 1985 A&E moved to its own dedicated transponder to deliver 24-hour programming, and Nickelodeon added its present-day Nick at Nite block. However, some cable providers continued to carry Nickelodeon and A&E on the same channel and would usually make the switch at 8 p.m. Eastern. It wasn't until the early 1990s that these companies found separate channels for both networks.
A&E was envisioned as a commercial counterpart to PBS, and in its early days focused on such PBS-style programming as the Leonard Bernstein Fidelio, filmed in 1978. Later it began to add programming originally seen on commercial networks, such as reruns of Columbo, Breaking Away, Quincy, The Equalizer and Law & Order, and Night Court. Highbrow British mysteries including Agatha Christie's Poirot, Cracker, Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy, Midsomer Murders, the Joan Hickson Miss Marple series and Sherlock Holmes were also featured; several of these series were produced in association with A&E. By 1990 A&E's original programming accounted for 35 to 40 percent of the network's program content.
A&E's signature show was Biography, a one-hour documentary series that A&E revived in 1987. In 1994 Biography went from one night to five nights a week, which helped boost A&E's ratings to record levels. The nightly series became A&E's top-rated show and one of cable TV's most notable successes. Biography received primetime Emmy Awards in 1999 and 2002.
Until it was officially changed in 1995, the A&E Network's full name was the Arts & Entertainment Network. By 1997, the network had branded itself as simply A&E, and was using the taglines "Time well spent" and "Escape the ordinary."
"The word 'arts,' in regard to television, has associations such as 'sometimes elitist,' 'sometimes boring,' 'sometimes overly refined' and 'doesn't translate well to TV,'" Whitney Goit, executive vice president for sales and marketing, stated. "Even the arts patron often finds arts on TV not as satisfying as it should be … And the word 'entertainment' is too vague. Therefore, much like ESPN uses its letters rather than what they stand for—Entertainment Sports (Programming) Network—we decided to go to just A&E." Of the network's tagline, Goit said, "Intellectually, 'Time well spent' defines a comparison between those who view a lot of television as a wasteland, and their acknowledgment that there are good things on TV and that they'd like to watch more thought-provoking TV."
The A&E Network commissioned Horatio Hornblower (1999), winner of two Emmy Awards, and the seven subsequent dramas in the series; Dash and Lilly (1999), which received nine Emmy nominations; and The Crossing (2000), which won the Peabody Award. The network created two original weekly drama series, Sidney Lumet's 100 Centre Street (2001–02) and Nero Wolfe (2001–02).
Notable movies and miniseries produced or co-produced by the A&E Network include the following:
- Pride and Prejudice (1995)
- Emma (1996)
- Jane Eyre (1997)
- The Pale Horse (1997)
- The Ebb-Tide (1998)
- Tess of the D'Urberviles (1998)
- Vanity Fair (1998)
- Murder in a Small Town (1999)
- The Lady in Question (1999)
- P.T. Barnum (1999)
- The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999)
- Small Vices (1999)
- The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2000)
- The Great Gatsby (2000)
- Longitude (2000)
- Lorna Doone (2000)
- Thin Air (2000)
- The Lost Battalion (2001)
- The Lost World (2001)
- Victoria & Albert (2001)
- Walking Shadow (2001)
- Lathe of Heaven (2002)
- The Magnificent Ambersons (2002)
- Napoléon (2002)
- Shackleton (2002)
- Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003)
- The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003)
In the summer of 2002, A&E underwent an overhaul in management which moved the network's focus toward reality television to attract a younger demographic and cancelled the network's two original scripted series. In May 2003 A&E launched a marketing campaign with the network's new tagline, "The Art of Entertainment." Between 2003 and 2007, the channel gradually retired several long-running series, moving its classic mysteries 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 network has also cut back on its broadcasts of Biography from originally twice daily to weekend mornings only.
The changes were criticized as causing A&E to become an aberration of its original focus on fine arts programming. For example, Maury Chaykin reflected on the cancellation of the A&E original series A Nero Wolfe Mystery in a 2008 interview: "I'm a bit jaded and cynical about which shows succeed on television. I worked on a fantastic show once called Nero Wolfe, but at the time A&E was transforming from the premiere intellectual cable network in America to one that airs Dog the Bounty Hunter on repeat, so it was never promoted and eventually went off the air."
A&E's most-watched program was the docudrama Flight 93, about the hijacking of the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania 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 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 being an evolution of the older logo, along with a larger ampersand equal to the letters, and a strong resemblance to the logo of USA Network. At the same time, A&E began a heavy cross-promotional campaign of on-screen graphics promoting other programs as well as various features of the A&E website. Each segment of each program aired on A&E now contains one program cross-promo graphic and one website cross-promo graphic.
As part of its continuing efforts to include more scripted shows, A&E ordered several dramas for Fall 2009. Among them were projects from Jerry Bruckheimer, Shawn Ryan and Lynda Obst, and a western miniseries from Kevin Costner. Several unscripted series were also 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, Storage Wars, Parking Wars, and Shipping Wars.
In June 2009, it was reported that A&E's partners – Hearst, Disney, and NBCUniversal – were in talks to add Lifetime (then jointly owned by Hearst and Disney) to the A&E Television Networks partnership. The transaction was eventually consummated on August 27, 2009.
In 2011, A&E introduced a brand new series called Beyond Scared Straight, based on the original 1978 documentary film, which follows troubled juveniles on a jail tour, followed by updates on their post-prison behavior.
A&E HD 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (March 2009)|
A&E HD is a 720p high definition simulcast of A&E 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 U.S. However, A&E HD is in the process of becoming more widely available in the U.S., 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.
- Parisi, Paula, "New look bows A&E's 2nd 10"; The Hollywood Reporter, December 29, 1993
- Carmody, John, "The TV Column"; The Washington Post, May 2, 1995. "The Arts & Entertainment cable network has officially changed its name to A&E Network."
- de Moraes, Lisa (May 9, 2008). "On TV". The Washington Post.
- "TV stokes desperate hunger for fame". CNN. November 30, 2009.
- Goldsmith, Jill (July 10, 2012). "Comcast to sell A&E stake for $3 billion: A&E to redeem the 15.8% stake". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
- "Freud, Warts and All, Sits for the Camera". The New York Times. 1985-01-20. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
- Matt Roush (2006-09-29). "MI-5: Is It MIA?". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2006-09-30.
- Becker, Anne, "A&E Slates New Music Show; Intimate 'Sessions' aimed at mainstream tastes"; Broadcasting and Cable, July 15, 2007
- Hoover's Company Records, July 12, 2011
- Gay, Verne (Newsday), "Biography: Top Show on Cable's A&E Network"; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 21, 1996
- Awards for Biography at the Internet Movie Database
- Ross, Chuck, "Cable Marketer of the Year: A&E"; Advertising Age, December 8, 1997
- Salamon, Julie, "When Group Therapy Means Coming Clean on TV"; The New York Times, June 22, 2004. "Two years ago Nick Davatzes, president and chief executive of A&E Television Networks, called his executives to a retreat, to 'wallow in the mud,' as he described the exercise. From that wallowing emerged an overhaul in management and outlook, including the conclusion that reality television could not be ignored if the network wanted younger viewers."
- Friedman, Wayne, "Strategy shift: A&E focuses on entertainment"; Advertising Age, May 5, 2003
- "A&E: Biography". A&E Television Networks. Archived from the original on 16 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- Farquharson, Vanessa, "Whole lot of Chaykin going on"; National Post, August 21, 2008. "After some initial advertising for the April second season premiere, A&E stopped publicizing the show," Scarlet Street magazine (No. 46, p. 20) reported in late 2002.
- Steve Rosenbaum (2006-02-01). ""Flight 93" Breaks A&E Records". Docu-Blog/Steve's POV. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2006-09-30.
- Anthony Crupi (2007-01-15). "Time to Collect: A&E's Sopranos Bet Pays Off". Mediaweek.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
- Fitzgerald, Toni (2007-02-14). "True grit: Remaking the A&E network". MediaLifeMagazine. Retrieved 2007-03-21.[dead link]
- MediaPost Publications Home of MediaDailyNews, MEDIA and OMMA Magazines
- "A&E Orders Bruckheimer Pilot; Renews Nine Shows". The Live Feed. May 12, 2009.
- NBCU Looks for Lifetime Stake, Mediaweek, June 4, 2009
- Disney, Hearst, NBC in Talks on Cable Joint Venture, New York Times, June 4, 2009
- Disney, Hearst, NBC Universal Talk AETN Restructuring, Broadcasting & Cable, June 3, 2009
- A&E Acquires Lifetime, Variety.com, August 27, 2009
- A&E Networks, Lifetime Merger Completed, Broadcasting & Cable, August 27, 2009
- aetv.com, A&E's official website
- A&E Latin America Site
- AETN Corporate Site
- A&E Community Site
- Biography Channel
- Biography Community Site
- The History Channel
- History Channel Community Site
- MediaLifeMagazine web site (source of cable network prime time ratings)