Rush on to Name Digital Executives

Jan 29, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A&E Television Networks has downloaded its digital dude.

Paul Jelinek joined the company as senior VP, digital media, from MTV Networks, where he was VP, digital media products, in the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group.

A&E is one of several media companies actively focusing on their digital strategies. It is among a handful of cable networks that has picked executives to head up those emerging businesses. Last week, Scripps Networks, BET and MSG Network all named senior new media executives.

Steve Ronson, executive VP of enterprises for AETN, said digital is very important to the company.

“It’s central to all of our growth strategies,” he said.

Mr. Ronson, to whom Mr. Jelinek reports, said the company is already seeing growth in the use of its broadband sites associated with its A&E, History Channel and Biography Channel networks. Downloads of its shows on Apple’s iTunes have exceeded expectations. The company has also jumped into community messaging and blogging, around such shows as A&E’s off-HBO run of “The Sopranos” and “Criss Angel Mindfreak.”

“You don’t have to be MySpace or Facebook to have a growing population of digital customers,” he said. “In fact we know it’s true we have high levels of engagement and it’s only growing.”

Mr. Ronson said AETN was impressed by Mr. Jelinek’s business acumen and experience in wireless and mobile distribution.

Mr. Jelinek said keys to his job would be would be leveraging AETN’s video assets online and providing deeper, richer experiences for consumers through online and other media platforms.

“This is a great opportunity for me because it combines my passion for non-fiction entertainment with digital,” he said.

Mr. Jelinek said that during the five years he worked at Discovery Communications and his six years at MTV Networks, he spent about 80 percent of his time on digital media “before it was really visible within media companies.”

Now those skills are in demand, Mr. Ronson said.

Another digital executive getting a promotion was Ron Feinbaum, who was upped to executive VP of business development at Scripps Networks. He had previously shepherded Scripps’ entree into online video and broadband channel as general manager and senior VP of Scripps Networks Interactive.

At BET Networks, Scott Mills, who had been chief financial officer, was named president of the company’s new Digital Media Group.

Scott Richman was named to the newly created post of senior VP of MSG Interactive at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Richman had been VP and general manager, programming, at AOL.

Daisy Whitney contributed to this report.