Ascheim Turns Off Nickelodeon

Tom Ascheim has traded in the world of kids television for the global perspective provided by Newsweek.

The executive vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon Television left his post last Friday to serve as CEO of the newsweekly, taking over those duties for Rick Smith, who is also stepping down as editor-in-chief of the Washing Post Co. title, but will retain its chairman spot.

Nickelodeon officials indicate that there is no immediate time frame to find a successor to Ascheim, who was named to his most recent post at the programmer in February 2006 by Cyma Zarghami. She was tapped the previous month as president to lead the then newly formed MTVN Kids and Family Group, established in the wake of the departure of MTV Networks vice chairman and Nickelodeon Networks president Herb Scannell.

Ascheim, who has held management positions at Viacom since 1990, was responsible for the day-to-day operations of kids kingpin Nickelodeon, as well as overseeing sister service and channel space sharers Noggin and The N, Nicktoons and Nickelodeon Games and Sports. Zarghami will maintain daily oversight for those businesses until a replacement is found.

As general manager, Ascheim helped grow and fortify the educational-oriented preschool service Noggin and the teen- and tween-leaning The N. Those services will break ranks on Dec. 31, when each becomes a 24-hour channel. Noggin will continue to air on the sister services’ channel space, while The N will assume the position currently occupied by Nick GAS. Both networks are expected to be in 60 million homes when the conversion occurs, according to Nick officials.

"Tom is a terrific executive. We wish him well in his new position," said a Nickelodeon spokesman.