John Fahey to NGS staff: Meet the Moneymakers

On Monday, June 25, 2012, John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of National Geographic, held a staff meeting in Grosvenor Auditorium.

Notes from the meeting, taken by one member of our team of in-house correspondents, provide some useful context for what’s happening to our Society.

1. John Fahey opened up the meeting by saying this was a Channel meeting. He said the Channel is the “economic engine” of NGS and may be for a long time.

2. Then, he brought up a panel of four people: David Lyle [CEO of the National Geographic Channel], Howard Owens [President], and two other people (a man and a woman).

3. David said there are three goals for the Channel: 

  • They want excellent programming. And that’s based on the number of people who watch a show. (They evidently don’t care if it is good quality, i.e., able to be nominated for an Emmy, they just are counting the eyeballs.)
  • excellent marketing; and 
  • ??? 

4. They want balance in their TV programming. … TV shows listed up on screen: Wicked Tuna, Amish: Out of Order, Locked Up Abroad, etc.

5. They showed what I consider PBS-worthy shows (mini-series, “one-offs”). This included the Titanic show they just aired, Alien Deep (show with Bob Ballard), a few other nature/science programs… 

6. More than once we were told how the Channel is the moneymaking part of NGS.

7. A few questions about how the quality of shows doesn’t match our mission. David said that Doomsday Preppers is a wonderful show and he explained why he believed it to be NGS-worthy. There was a question about demographics. … 

8. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and we have to stay near/at the top.

9. And they want to have “franchise faces.” … They showed a clip of franchise faces — people who can be the next Snookie (from Jersey Shore). Snookie was not mentioned in the meeting. …


We don’t have a video of the meeting.
But this interview with Howard Owens, President of the Channel,
gives a vivid picture of who & what is driving the editorial changes at our Society.

UPDATE: Although the video embedded above was removed from YouTube,
it can still be viewed here.

  • Oldowl

    And who is the Velveeta serving up the marshmallow questions? 

    • In the video? You mean you don’t recognize her? That’s Chantal Westerman, who (per Wikipedia) was the Entertainment Editor and Hollywood Correspondent of ABC’s Good Morning America from 1986 through 2000. 

      Or do you mean the questions in the NGS auditorium?

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