Jana Bennett, Former History Channel Chief and Top BBC Director, Dies at 66

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Jana Bennett, the former president and general manager of the History Channel and top director at the BBC, has died. She was 66.

Bennett was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2019.

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In a statement provided to Variety on Thursday, Paul Buccieri, president and chairman of History Channel owner A+E Networks, said: “All of us at A+E Networks deeply mourn the loss of our friend and colleague Jana Bennett. 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,” current BBC director-general Tim Davie said in his own statement to Variety. “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.”

Previously overseeing A+E Network’s FYI and LMN, Bennett was named president and general manager of History Channel in 2015, taking over for Dirk Hoogstra. She oversaw operations for History and H2 until she decided to step down in May 2017 to pursue an entrepreneurial venture, and Paul Cabana succeeded her.

Prior to her time at A+E brands, Bennett was president of BBC Worldwide and Global BBC iPlayer, a position she landed after serving as head of BBC Television.

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