Sometimes good things come to those who wait: Roger Marmet, who had been serving as acting general manager of TLC since last April, last week officially replaced the departed Jana Bennett as the network's leader.
Marmet, now senior vice president and general manager, was pleased with his promotion from vice president of programming, and philosophical about its timing.
"I'm very happy," he said. "We have had organizational changes, [Discovery Networks U.S. president] Billy [Campbell] has only really been here since June. He didn't know me. Good things happen when you wait, I guess."
In his new role, Marmet, who has been with TLC for a decade, will oversee all programming, development, production and operations for the network. Under his leadership, TLC has vaulted into the top 10 in 2002 with a 1.2 household average, surpassing sister network Discovery Channel in the process.
Riding the combination of Trading Spaces
and While You Were Out, TLC has become the basic-cable leader on Saturday nights. The puissant pair has often topped broadcasters as well.
TLC has also pushed to the front ranks among adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54 with what Marmet calls the "redecorating lifestyle" series.
On March 7, TLC will embark on a makeover of its own, looking to extend its strong reach to Fridays. While You Were Out
will anchor the night with a double-stack from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by Faking It, another new series with U.K. roots.
Marmet said this one follows people who, after training, take different positions in the workplace and in life — a drag racer becomes a drag queen, and a beer-drinking society president tries his hand at being a sommelier.
Beginning on March 8, that scheduling changeover will leave Trading Spaces tethered to What Not To Wear, in which two critics help the fashion-challenged. A sneak preview on Jan. 18 earned a 3.0 household rating.
"It had a great beginning. I wish we had been ready to roll. We're still putting it together," said Marmet, noting that for now, TLC has ordered 10 episodes of What Not to Wear
and six editions of Faking It.
Looking ahead, Marmet sees plenty in the TLC pipeline, as the network will boost its programming budget in 2003 by 40 percent.
"I keep telling our staff, the most important shows we have our not on the air yet," he said.
"TLC is in the top five among persons 18 to 49 and we want to stay there or go higher. We have to keep our eye on what makes this network distinctive. When broadcast tires of reality, TLC will still be a nonfiction network."