New home for HGTV chief


Judy Girard is retiring as president of Scripps Networks channel HGTV by year's end, she said Monday.

The network said that a search for Girard's replacement is under way, and it expects her successor to be in place before the end of the year. Girard will remain involved with Scripps Networks, serving in an advisory capacity on content development.

Girard, who has more than 25 years of experience in the TV industry, joined Scripps in 1998, first as GM and then as president of Food Network before becoming head of HGTV in 2005. She recently led that network through a rebranding process and updated its programming with such shows as "HGTV Design Star," the network's most-watched series ever, and "Color Splash."

"I have had an amazing time in television and feel extremely fortunate to have spent the last 10 years at Scripps Networks running two of the best lifestyle networks in cable," Girard said. "Now I am looking forward to spending more time with my husband and enjoying some of the lifestyle pursuits our networks have helped popularize."

Scripps credited Girard with building Food Network's talent base, which includes Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis, and improving its viewership in total-day and primetime by 150% and 123%, respectively. Distribution of the network also grew, adding more than 40 million subscribers under her leadership. Girard also is credited with adding new, younger viewers to HGTV.

"With HGTV fully distributed, the challenge for Judy and the brand team has been to further strengthen the relationship between the brand and the viewer," Scripps Networks president John Lansing said. "She has done that, capitalizing on the strong engagement HGTV enjoys with consumers while also expanding the definition of the brand to include real estate, living green and really all things that relate to home — no matter how you define it. As a result, HGTV has had solid, year-to-year ratings growth month after month."

HGTV consistently ranks among the top 15 cable networks for average audience delivery during primetime and performs particularly well with upscale audiences.

Before joining Scripps, Girard was senior vp programming at Americast, a joint venture between the Walt Disney Co., BellSouth, SBC Communications, Ameritech and GTE Corp. Before that, she was senior vp programming and production at Lifetime.