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.