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Nat Geo President Leaving Channel

Just a week after pitching her network's growth story and new programming to press and advertisers in New York, National Geographic President Laureen Ong said she is leaving the network she founded to be COO of STAR, News Corp.'s Asian media company.

Stepping in as she departs are David Haslingden, who will become the network's CEO, and Steve Schiffman, who is promoted to acting general manager. Haslingden, who has been in Rome for the past few years, is currently CEO of National Geographic Channels International and Fox International Channels and will keep those roles. Seven-year-old Nat Geo is two-thirds owned by News Corp's Fox Cable Networks and one-third by National Geographic Ventures. Schiffman has been EVP of Marketing and Digital Media for the channel since 2002.

Ong, who spent 15 years in sports TV and was GM of two Fox O&O's prior to Nat Geo, was the network's first employee in April, 2000 and built its entire staff and programming before launching nine months later. She has overseen its growth into 64 million U.S. homes and its launch of an HD simulcast channel. She will move to Hong Kong, where multichannel satellite TV network STAR is headquartered.

Haslingden is charged with growing Nat Geo, US and also better integrating it with National Geographic Channels International. NGCI, which he joined as CEO in December1999, is currently available in 163 countries.

Schiffman has overseen Nat Geo US's marketing, digital, branding, communications, business development and research in his nearly five years at the channel. He will now report to Haslingden.