Laureen Ong, a veteran television executive who helped launch the National Geographic Channel in 2001, has been named as the new president of Scripps Networks-owned Travel Channel.
Ong, 57, was selected after a nationwide search was initiated by the company after it acquired Travel Channel last December.
Ong will join Travel Channel on April 19. She has been chief operating officer of Hong Kong-based Star Group Limited for the past three years.
Patrick Younge, who oversaw Travel Channel's growth since 2005, left the network to return to his home in London.
Scripps also has named Jonathan Sichel as general manager of the network. Sichel, formerly senior vice president of commercial affairs and operations at Travel Channel, has served as interim general manager since the acquisition by Scripps.
Sichel will work closely with Ong as the pair focuses on building the brand, developing additional programming and talent to increase ratings, and creating new business opportunities for Travel Channel.
Sichel, 43, has been with Travel Channel for three years.
Last year was Travel Channel's most successful, with viewing for adults 25-54 at all-time highs in both primetime and total day. The ratings success has continued into 2010, as the February special Man v Food Live was the top-rated telecast in the first quarter, setting a ratings record for a Travel Channel live event, Scripps said.
The network also has introduced more original series, including Food Wars, which premiered on March 9 and delivered the second highest ratings for adults 25-54 of any new series in Travel Channel history, Scripps said.
"Laureen has the brand experience and proven track record in developing non-fiction television that will help us build on the recent success that Travel Channel has achieved," Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Networks Interactive, said in a release.
"She also has an excellent business acumen that will facilitate expanding the brand into new ventures within the travel category, much like we have done with Food Network and HGTV."
Added John Lansing, president of Scripps Networks: "Jonathan has demonstrated tremendous leadership and strategic thinking as we have transitioned the Travel Channel into Scripps Networks. He is directly connected to the heart and soul of this network and we are looking forward to his continued contributions as an integral part of the management team."
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