NEW YORK — Henry Schleiff was named president and CEO of Court TV Tuesday. Prior to joining Court TV, Schleiff was executive VP for Studios USA.
The move, which was unexpected, ends months of speculation about Time Warner and Liberty Media Corp.’s plans for the cable network. Earlier this year, NBC sold its stake in the channel.
The change in ownership capped the end of years of disagreements among Court TV’s owners about how the network should be run. Court TV’s staffers expected an announcement of this type months ago, and the lack of direction caused many to depart.
Reached for comment, Court TV insiders praised the hiring of Schleiff. Several said that he impressed the staff with his preparation and humor in a one-hour meeting with Court TV’s employees.
The channel, which has 34 million-subscribers, has built a solid brand name but has been unable to attract decent ratings on a regular basis. Schleiff said he had plenty of financial commitment from Court TV’s owners to execute a new game plan that has yet to be fully developed.
Schleiff said he was open to many possible programming strategies, including airing court-related fictional works such as the film “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
From 1987 to 1992, Schleiff was senior VP of Viacom Intl. Inc. and chairman and CEO of Viacom’s Broadcast and Entertainment Groups.
Before that, he had been senior VP of business affairs and administration for HBO and head of HBO Enterprises.