Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society, and Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, today completed the sweeping changes at the top of the National Geographic Channels that started yesterday with the announcement that the channels’ president Howard Owens will be leaving in June. “Today, the worst kept secret is over — I am taking my leave as CEO of National Geographic Channels,” David Lyle, who had served as National Geographic Channels CEO since 2011, wrote in an internal memo (read it in full below the post.). “I am exhilarated but somewhat saddened also.” Lyle will be replaced by a marketing executive, Courteney Monroe, who has served as Chief Marketing Officer for National Geographic Channels’ domestic networks since 2012 and is now being upped to CEO. She will report to the Board of Directors of the National Geographic Channels. Additionally, David Hill, Senior EVP of 21st Century Fox and a member of the National Geographic Channels Board of Directors, will now add the title of Chairman of National Geographic Channels U.S. His role is described as “providing counsel to the executive and programming leadership team.” Coming from marketing, Monroe has no production experience. Hill, who had an oversight of NGC prior to Lyle’s 2011 hire, will remain a member of the NGC Board and also continue to oversee production of American Idol.
The moves continue to expand the domain of Hill, who is one of Rupert Murdoch’s trusted lieutenants. In 2012, the long-time chairman and CEO of Fox Sports was elevated to senior EVP for News Corp. Then last summer, following the departure of Fox alternative chief Mike Darnell, he was put in charge of the network’s The X Factor and American Idol. Since then, X Factor has been cancelled while American Idol is finishing up its lowest-rated season. Meanwhile, the National Geographic Channels have done very well under Lyle and Owens. “I’m exhilarated that NGC and NG WILD are in rude health with EBITDAs (profits) at all-time highs, and with programming featuring the most watched specials, series and year in the channels’ history,” Lyle wrote in his memo. That makes the executive housecleaning puzzling. It follows speculation about a discord between Hill and NGC’s leadership team of Lyle and Owens who turned the network around in the past three years. When Hill gave up direct oversight of NGC in 2011, the move was explained with a clash of cultures between him and the team at National Geographic.
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Veteran News Corp. TV executive David Hill is stepping in to oversee Fox’s flagship reality series American Idol and The X Factor. Hill, who serves as Senior EVP of News Corp. after a long tenure as chairman and CEO of Fox Sports, is not a replacement for Fox’s departing alternative programming president Mike Darnell but will take over his duties on Idol and X Factor. Following Darnell’s recent announcement that he was stepping down, there has been a decision-making vacuum on the two shows, with Idol in particular in dire need of someone to oversee its upcoming overhaul following record-low ratings.
Related: Mike Darnell On His Decision To Leave Fox & His Future
Three of the four judges — Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson — already announced they are not coming back. Executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warrick also are not expected to continue, but even that decision has not been formalized, along with the recruitment of new judges, with negotiations with Idol alumna Jennifer Hudson stalled. Hill’s coming on board is expected to help get things moving. It also will shift the way the two shows are run toward a more traditional network/producer relationship, with Hill serving as the network’s point person for the producers. Read More »
David Hill will transition to a News Corp-wide role. This Peter Rice promotion ends months of recent speculation that the Chairman of Entertainment for Fox Networks Group, who’s been on a very fast track inside Fox and News Corp, would move immediately into Peter Chernin‘s old role heading both film and television. Don’t forget that Rice began working at Fox as a summer intern in 1989. And that he and Rupert Murdoch have a very special relationship. I’ve been told that Rice’s father helped Rupert conquer the newspaper unions once upon a time, and, as a result, Murdoch looks upon Peter like a son. So the conventional wisdom is that Peter Rice is being groomed to be the next Peter Chernin or Chase Carey. And to do that No. 2 News Corp job, he’s got to know TV inside and out. It wasn’t that long ago that Rice was upped from Fox Searchlight to Fox Broadcasting’s Entertainment Chairman and then his duties expanded to oversee programming for the broadcast network as well as FX. Rice has earned the reputation within News Corp as a key creative type. As Murdoch once said about Rice, “Peter has the vision, creativity and determination.” Spoken like a proud surrogate father. Here’s the announcement: Read More »
Bloomberg Game Changers last night profiled News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch with interviews including former No. 2 Peter Chernin and current Fox Sports chairman David Hill. There’s some good stuff in here, including Chernin talking about Murdoch’s hands-on approach:
Fox reps have confirmed a TMZ report that actor Charlie Sheen met on Thursday with several top Fox executives. I have the details. The sitdown, which happened on the Fox lot, was set up by Fox Sports for Sheen to speak … Read More »