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Audience Network Head Chris Long to Depart

The news comes as AT&T is poised to acquire Time Warner.

There’s a change at the head of Audience Network.

Chris Long, the programming chief at the former DirecTV-turned-AT&T Audience Network, is exiting the company a day before AT&T ‘s Time Warner acquisition.

Long, the longtime executive who steered Audience Network into scripted originals, announced his departure in a memo to staff Monday.

“For the past 18 years I’ve felt an extraordinary degree of good fortune and pride in building the Audience Network into what is has become today — a creative, quality haven for talent on both sides of the camera. And I’ve been blessed to have worked alongside a team that is second to none. I wish them all the very best moving forward — because I’ll be watching,” Long wrote Monday, noting that he wanted to “pass the baton” at the VOD platform.

AT&T’s Dan York will take over on an interim basis until a permanent replacement can be found. Sources note that Long wanted to continue to expand Audience Network’s originals while AT&T was looking to maintain the status quo.

With Rogue, Long ushered Audience Network into the pricey scripted originals landscape. He followed that series with Kingdom, which recently wrapped its run, as well as Condor, You Me Her, Hit the Road, Loudermilk and Mr. Mercedes, the latter of which has received a strong critical response and was renewed for a second season.

Long, who presented multiple shows at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in August, told THR at the time that his goal was to have four scripted dramas — one per quarter — and four or six half-hour comedies on the platform. He spoke at length about Audience Network’s maturation and how proud he was of Mr. Mercedes, going so far as to tell critics that it was “one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on television.”

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