Programming guru back at TLC

Steve Cheskin becomes executive vp programming

Steve Cheskin has returned to the TLC fold in the newly created role of executive vp programming.

Reporting to TLC president and GM Eileen O'Neill, the Silver Spring, Md.-based Cheskin will lead the network's scheduling and program development team as well as the bicoastal development unit.

Cheskin most recently was senior vp programming at WE tv, a job he assumed in 2006 after having consulted with the Rainbow Media network for two years. There, he developed a roster of series that includes "The Locator," "Amazing Wedding Cakes" and "Platinum Weddings."

"Steve's proven track record makes him an excellent addition to the TLC family," O'Neill said. "With his leadership, I'm confident we will continue the network's strategic growth and create even more must-watch television brands."

Before WE tv, Cheskin put in 18 years at Discovery Communications, where he held down several positions across three networks. Among his various roles, Cheskin was GM of Travel Channel (where he launched the long-running hit "The World Poker Tour"), vp programming at TLC and director of programming at Discovery Channel, where he was instrumental in the launch of the Shark Week franchise.

In the wake of the hire, Los Angeles-based senior vp production and development Nancy Daniels will focus on production on both coasts. Since joining TLC in August, Daniels has unveiled two new hits for the network in "Cake Boss" and "The Little Couple."

Since TLC cut its ties a year ago with president and GM Angela Shapiro-Mathes, the network has reversed course, moving the nucleus of the operation back east. The tabloid fury that flared up around the stars of TLC's long-running series "Jon & Kate Plus 8" helped the network finish the second quarter in fine form, averaging 1.07 million viewers in primetime, an increase of 25% compared with the year-ago period.

Per Nielsen ratings data, TLC nearly cracked the top 10 among the core TV demos, averaging 534,000 adults 25-54, an increase of 20% from its Q2 '08 delivery, and 550,000 viewers 18-49 (up 19%). Both deliveries were ad-supported cable's 11th-largest for the quarter.