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National Geographic Stocking Up on Nature, History

Apr 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

National Geographic Channel plans to stick with its programming formula despite the departures of two key executives.

The channel has given the green light to four new series and specials that adhere to the National Geographic mission of exploring history and nature in a deep way that produces new insights.

NatGeo, a joint venture of Fox Cable Networks and National Geographic Ventures, last month named David Haslingden as CEO and Steve Schiffman as acting general manager. The duo replace founding president Laureen Ong, who moved to Star, News Corp.’s TV property in Hong Kong. Earlier in the month, programming chief John Ford announced plans to leave the network also.

The channel had its best quarter ever in the first quarter with the current strategy. Among total viewers, the 6-year-old channel ranked No. 41 among ad-supported cable networks.

“Luckily, Laureen and John hired a team of people who worked together and we’re still here and our mandate is to really build on the current success and keep going in that direction,” said Michael Cascio, senior VP of special programming at NatGeo. “We’ve been doing well, and we feel the shows have been sharply on point for us and our audience.”

National Geographic Channel’s New Shows

  • “Raw History” Six one-hour episodes employing rare pictures, video and other information to uncover new insights into iconic events. Among the subjects the series will cover are Iwo Jima, the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and the shooting at Kent State University. “You’ll find the truth is more complex than the conventional wisdom,” Michael Cascio, senior VP of special programming at NatGeo, said. The show is scheduled to air in the third quarter of 2007.
  • “Prehistoric Predators” A three-hour miniseries that shows the super-sized ancestors of today’s most formidable beasts. The program is tentatively scheduled to air in August.
  • “Mystery of the Nazi-Occult Connection” A one-hour special that looks at how a belief in the supernatural may have shaped the life and death of Adolf Hitler and affected the course of World War II. The special is scheduled for the third quarter.
  • “White City” A one-hour special looking at some of the amazing things that emerged from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Among the positive things on display were the Ferris wheel, the tin can and the Pledge of Allegiance, but the fair might also have attracted the country’s first serial killer. The special may get a title change before its expected third-quarter airdate.