The CEO of National Geographic Channels has stepped down, part of a shakeup among top-level executives at the cable group. Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com that David Lyle announced his resignation today.
"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," Andreeva reports reports.
In an internal memo announcing his resignation, Lyle, who held the post since 2011, wrote: “Today, the worst kept secret is over — I am taking my leave as CEO of National Geographic Channels. 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," the story reports. "She will report to the Board of Directors of the National Geographic Channels."
The report adds: "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.'"
Hill, who is described in the report as one of Rupert Murdoch’s "trusted lieutenants," continues to see his oversight expand, the piece notes: "In 2012, the longtime 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 canceled while 'American Idol' is finishing up its lowest-rated season."
At the same time, the National Geographic Channels have performed well under Lyle and Owens. In his farewell memo, Lyle notes: “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."
In the Deadline report, Andreeva writes: "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."