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A&E (a former initialism for Arts & Entertainment) launched in 1984 and is the flagship property of A+E Networks, a joint venture between Disney and Hearst Communications.note  The network launched in February 1984 as a merger of ARTS (the Alpha Repertory Television Service, owned by ABC and Hearst) and The Entertainment Channel (owned by NBC). It used to timeshare with Nickelodeon (a holdover from ARTS) until 1985 when they launched a 24-hour service note .
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A&E was originally dedicated to fine-arts programming and was seen as a commercial equivalent to PBS. It's signature program during this time was Biography, which documents the life of notable figures in entertainment and human history. Though originally cancelled in 2012, the series was popular enough to be spun-off and expanded into its own franchise outside the network; the series proper would be revived in 2017.

In 1995, the channel's name was shortened to A&E and, in 2002, shifted its focus to reality programming to attract younger viewers. Said reality programming has covered topics as true crime and law enforcement, taboos and disorders, hobbies, and job occupations among others.

During Biography's decline, Storage Wars would become the network's flagship show in its earlier seasons. The show's Seasonal Rot came during a Dork Age where A&E's original programming deteriorated into similarly light-hearted programming, at the cost of the brief cancellation of long-running docuseries (such as Intervention). A&E also made further attempts to expand into original scripted dramas around this time. Longmire and Bates Motel were the network's most successful dramas, but the former was nearly cancelled for good despite high ratings due to production costs and the fact that the show skewed an older audience.note 

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The success of Nightwatch would lead A&E to shift its programming back towards more darker, gritter fare, with shows like 60 Days In and Live PD. Live PD in particular would usurp Storage Wars as the network's flagship show and spawn numerous spin-offs.

Under A+E Networks, A&E's direct siblings include History, Lifetime, FYI (which replaced The Biography Channel after falling into Network Decay), and the U.S version of Viceland (which replaced H2). Disney and Hearst also partner on sports juggernaut ESPN, though Hearst is only a minority partner and Disney has full operational control of that unit.

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Original programming seen on this network include:


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