Programming Exec Steve Cheskin Returns to TLC

Steve Cheskin is returning to the TLC fold, accepting the newly created role of executive vp, programming. Based at the network’s Silver Spring, Md., headquarters, Cheskin will begin his tenure on Tuesday, July 7.

Reporting directly to TLC president and general manager Eileen O’Neill, Cheskin will lead the network’s scheduling and program development team, as well as the bi-coastal development unit.

Cheskin most recently served as senior vp of programming at WE tv, a job he assumed back in May 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, by way of announcing the move. “With his leadership, I’m confident we will continue the network’s strategic growth and create even more must-watch television brands.”

Before joining WE tv, Cheskin had put in 18 years at Discovery Communications, where he held down a number of positions across three networks. Among his various roles, Cheskin was general manager of Travel Channel (where he launched the long-running hit The World Poker Tour), vp of programming at TLC and director of programming, 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 now focus on production on both coasts. Since joining TLC in August 2008, 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 general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes, the network has reversed course, moving the nucleus of the operation back east. The sudden tabloid fury that flared up around the stars of TLC’s long-running series Jon & Kate Plus 8 helped the net finish the second quarter in fine fettle, averaging 1.07 million viewers in prime time, an increase of 25 percent versus the prior-year 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 percent over its Q2 ‘08 delivery, and 550,000 viewers 18-49 (up 19 percent). Both deliveries were ad-supported cable’s 11th-largest for the quarter.