In the February issue of RealScreen, Ed Hersh – who recently left A&E to head up docs at Court TV – revealed that A&E was taking doc slots out of primetime, signaling a change in emphasis at the channel. But, CarolAnne Dolan, A&E’s new vice president of doc series, insists the cablecaster is not downsizing its factual content, despite the fact it has introduced its first weekly drama series (100 Center St.) in a Monday to Friday 9:00p.m. slot. Says Dolan, ‘There are only so many hours in primetime, but we are still at the same level of production and we’re in development on a number of series.’ Although Dolan wouldn’t elaborate, she explains that the channel has programs ready to air so variety can be introduced to the schedule if the need arises. ‘Some programs are successful and some aren’t,’ she says. ‘The Competition hasn’t caught on like we hoped it would. But, it’s still early – it takes audiences a while to find things.’
Dolan defines A&E’s mandate or goal as providing high quality TV and, therefore, doesn’t see a contradiction in airing mainstream dramas. She does acknowledge, however, that the market for certain types of arts programming remains limited throughout the U.S. ‘There will always be space for the big concert, but this type of programming has never had a large market outside, say PBS or Bravo,’ she says. At present, viewers can still expect to find familiar faces in A&E’s factual primetime line-up. ‘Bill Curtis isn’t going anywhere,’ laughs Dolan.