Vice Taps Female CEO to Lead Culture Change, Smith as Chairman

(Bloomberg) -- Vice Media LLC, the youth-oriented media company facing complaints of a hostile work environment for women, named A+E’s Nancy Dubuc as chief executive officer and pushed co-founder Shane Smith up to the role of executive chairman.

Dubuc, currently CEO of cable programmer A+E Television Networks, is already deeply involved with the company as a member of the board and the executive overseeing A+E’s investment in Vice. Smith in his new role will focus on deals and content. She’ll leave her current post next month.

Vice Taps Female CEO to Lead Culture Change, Smith as Chairman

“Vice has taken a number of recent steps to ensure its workplace becomes one of the most progressive in the world, including a commitment to 50/50 by 2020 across all levels of the company including management,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Vice cultivated a reputation as an edgy company that thumbed its nose at stodgy peers, with Smith as its visionary leader. That reputation has grown less appealing to advertisers as the media industry tries to combat decades of gender inequality and harassment. The appointment follows a series of changes at Vice in which senior executives there were fired or put on leave due to complaints of sexual harassment.

Smith, 48, is giving way to one of the most accomplished female executives in media. Dubuc, 49, who has led A+E since 2013, helped assemble a popular reality-TV lineup that included hits such as “Ice Road Truckers” and “Duck Dynasty.” Like other TV executives, she’s been trying to manage a new era of digital competition, introducing a subscription service, the Lifetime Movie Club, and negotiating to have her company’s networks included in new web-based, cable-like packages of TV channels.

A+E, a joint venture of Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., owns a number of cable TV channels, including History, A&E and Lifetime. The company said Monday that Dubuc was stepping down, effective April 16, to be replaced on an interim basis by Abbe Raven, the chairman emeritus and former CEO.

“Shane and the team at Vice have done what all of us aspire to do -- build a brand and make content that people really care about,” Dubuc said Tuesday in the statement. “Vice speaks to a generation that defines today’s cultural conversation, and the opportunity to partner with all of the incredibly creative people across the entire company was one of those rare moments in a career.”

Vice Media, whose target audience is young adults, operates the cable TV network Viceland, produces a news program on HBO and makes online videos.

Disney owns 10 percent of Vice directly. A+E has an additional 18 percent and shares ownership of Viceland with Vice.

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