Executive set as outlet's topper

Discovery has appointed former Crown Media prexy and former Court TV topper Henry Schleiff to run its Investigation Discovery outlet.

Schleiff has been tasked with driving revenue and ratings for Investigation Discovery (known as Discovery Times Channel until January 2008), overseeing development, production, scheduling, marketing and online. With an official start date of Aug. 1, he will report to Discovery Emerging Networks prexy and g.m. Clark Bunting.

Schleiff told Daily Variety that competition is ID’s biggest challenge.

“You look out from the foxhole, and you see a huge number of cable networks with some advantage in terms of size and distribution,” Schleiff said. “How do you address that? You start with a very clear and distinct brand, and I think that’s one of the advantages that something like this network has.”

Schleiff believes that ID’s round-the-clock emphasis on investigation is ahead of its time and will be attractive to advertisers, adding that the net’s goal is to be thought of, “a la Comedy Central,” as “Investigation Central.”

He spoke of using “the enormous resources of Discovery at large” to tell “the story behind the story.”

During Schleiff’s Crown tenure, he oversaw the expansion of Hallmark Channel’s audience base to more than 86 million homes and launched the Hallmark Movie Network. Previously, Schleiff was chairman-CEO of Court TV, which nearly tripled its base of 30 million homes under his leadership.

Schleiff began his TV career as a business affairs senior VP with HBO before moving to Viacom, where he amassed production credits on projects for HBO, Showtime, USA, Lifetime and AMC. He was also an exec VP for Studios USA, evaluating East Coast broadcasting and cable opportunities for television.

Among the series on tap for ID is real-life investigations series “On the Case With Paula Zahn,” scheduled to premiere Oct. 18.

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