David, David, David…

From John Fahey’s in-house blog:

They’re All Australian and They’re All Named David

Published:  August 8, 2011

The board of directors of our joint venture, the National Geographic Channel, announced last week that David Lyle had become its CEO and Global Programming head. Beyond the amusement of the third Australian David in a lead Channel role, many were wondering what this was all about.

You may remember that back in December, the first David, Haslingden, was promoted to president and COO, FOX Network Group. In part because of his successful leadership of the National Geographic Channels on a worldwide basis, Haslingden was given this top management position at FOX. He leads their cable networks, including FOX’s interest in the National Geographic Channel joint ventures, as well as the FOX broadcast network. He isn’t responsible for FOX News. I apologize, I know this is a bit confusing.

At the time of David H’s promotion, Chase Carey, the top FOX Entertainment executive, suggested to the Channel board that David Hill, chairman of FOX Sports, become their new point person for NGC. Hill, an industry legend, a very large personality and an individual with a passion for history and geography, offered up much of his time to improve Channel performance. He believes that our programming should be an even greater reflection of the Society’s mission sensibilities. Despite understandable misperceptions some may have on this subject, FOX truly believes NGC will succeed only if it can better differentiate itself from the competition based on the core values and brand strength of the Society.

It’s true that David Hill came in a bit like a F5 tornado, yet he managed to accomplish much in the past six months. The thing I give him most credit for is his insistence that the Channel staff communicate with and work more closely with their Society counterparts. Now Channel programming managers attend NGM idea and development sessions. NG Television and NGC personnel work together as they never had before. I often tell David he made something happen that I should have long before his arrival.

In addition, David brought new and intense focus to what gets on the screen – every minute of it. It takes time to turn around a programming lineup, but we will begin to see the changes in our programs, our interstitials, scheduling strategy and on-air promotion. Hill has been called back to spend more of his time on the very big job of FOX Sports, but will support the Channel every chance he gets.

Now enter David Lyle. Unlike the other two Davids, he is a full-time employee of our Channel, the joint venture, and reports to its board. As a reminder, the board has equal governance, with three board members from FOX (David Haslingden, David Hill and Mike Hopkins) and three from NG (Tim Kelly, Ted Prince and me.)

We chose to offer David Lyle the job after a rigorous search. We interviewed many capable leaders from the industry. We were looking for someone who had a long track record on the content side. Fortunately we knew David L. well as he had been appointed head of West Coast Programming for the Channel several months ago. Among the things that appeal to me about David are his mature, affable, strong leadership style and his well-articulated strategy for balancing brand-appropriate content and great entertainment. His background isn’t in classic documentary programming, but he has quickly demonstrated a clear understanding of those qualities that separate NGS from the competition – qualities that need to be evident in our programming. We obviously wish him great success.

So there is much good news here. All the Davids from Australia will be involved with our Channels to varying degrees. Of equal importance, the current management team led by Steve Schiffman has found good equilibrium and strong momentum. There is much opportunity to improve. I believe we have the personnel in place to make that happen.

If you run across another Australian David, send him our way.

{end of John Fahey’s blog post}


Here’s a sampling of original programming from the now-defunct Fox Reality Channel, which Mr. Lyle used to run (via Wikipedia):

David Lyle

•  Battle of the Bods is a steamy reality show in which five nerdy girls rank themselves in order of attractiveness and try to match the rankings of a panel of male judges. The program premiered January 19, 2008.

•  Busted and Disgusted is an original series bringing viewers clips of the most disgusting and outrageous behavior caught on camera. The show premiered on April 1, 2009.

•  My Bare Lady gives adult film stars the opportunity to try out different careers. The program premiered on December 7, 2006.

•  Paradise Hotel 2 follows a group of single men and women who are given the opportunity to live together in an exclusive resort. The program premiered February 4, 2008 and was shared by MyNetworkTV.

•  Seducing Cindy follows Cindy Margolis, once the most downloaded woman on the Internet, as she searches for a new love. The program premiered on January 30, 2010.

•  Solitary turns the concept of solitary confinement into a game show. The program, which features an unseen host presiding over “treatments,” or challenges, premiered on June 5, 2006.

•  Sex Decoy: Love Stings, set inside the private life and professional world of Sandra Hope and “Mate Check Private Investigations”. Each episode chronicles specific cases in which a spouse or significant other hires Sandra and her team of decoys to “tempt” their potentially wayward lover and expose infidelity. The show also follows the ups and downs of Sandra’s dysfunctional family, including her daughters, who work for her as decoys. The program premiered on May 23, 2009.

In October 2009, it was announced that Fox Reality Channel would be discontinued on most providers on March 29, 2010 and re-branded into an American version of National Geographic Wild.


John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society

Dear John,
If David Lyle has a “well-articulated strategy
for balancing brand-appropriate content and great entertainment,”
we’d love to hear it.
(We’re curious because, as you say,
Mr. Lyle’s background “isn’t in classic documentary programming.”)

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.