Jana Bennett, the former president and general manager of History channel, has died. She was 66.
Bennett, who had at one point been the top director at the BBC, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2019. Stateside, she also had a stint as the Discovery GM.
“All of us at A+E Networks deeply mourn the loss of our friend and colleague Jana Bennett,” Paul Buccieri, president and chairman of A+E Networks, told TheWrap in a statement. “Jana had an extraordinary career in media and her contributions to the A+E Networks family are too enormous to count. She was a groundbreaking, game-changing, generous and beautiful person. She will be terribly missed by all of us, and especially by me. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.”
“Jana Bennett was one of the most talented television producers of her generation and a formidable champion of public service broadcasting,” Tim Davie, BBC director-general, said in his own statement on Thursday. “She was a trailblazer who rose to the top of the industry, tirelessly championing upcoming talent, as well as having the foresight to bring together television and digital services. She was a brilliant and gifted colleague and is a big loss to the television industry.”
Bennett succeeded Dirk Hoogstra as president and general manager of History Channel in 2015, overseeing all strategic planning, programming, marketing and brand development for History and H2 from New York City. She stepped down in May 2017, ceding control at the time to senior vice president of programming Paul Cabana.
“This spring, Jana came to me and told me that she wanted to split her time between London and NY and start a new entrepreneurial venture aimed at creating the best of British and American content for both markets,” A+E CEO Nancy Dubuc said at the time of her departure.
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Bennett came to that job from in-house, previously overseeing A+E’s FYI and LMN.
During her earlier role as president of BBC Worldwide and Global BBC iPlayer, Bennett was responsible for 16 branded channels, across 100 countries, reaching 380 million subscriber homes. Before that, Bennett headed up BBC Television where she was responsible for the BBC’s six free-to-air channels in the U.K.
See Davie’s statement below via the BBC’s press office.