TLC ‘Got a Little Bit Unlucky’ With Josh Duggar Scandal, Discovery CEO David Zaslav Says

Also, he doesn’t want you writing good reviews of the cable channel’s reality shows anyway, New York and L.A. critics

Last Updated: December 7, 2015 @ 2:29 PM

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav admits that TLC is down, but promises it is not out. And those challenges the cable channel currently faces? All due to some rotten luck.

“TLC is a little bit more of a culturally driven brand … it’s a little bit more erratic,” Zaslav began addressing the channel’s rough ratings year at Monday’s UBS media conference. “But also, we got a little bit unlucky, I think, with TLC.”

The executive was referring to canceling TLC’s top show “19 Kids and Counting” due to a molestation scandal surrounding star Josh Duggar. Fellow hit series “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” was axed for an eerily similar situation.

“We also need to probably work a little harder at getting it right,” he said, “but I think our strategy is right.”

And what is that strategy, exactly?

“TLC is middle America,” Zaslav explained. “We basically say, ‘Forget New York and L.A.’ We don’t want anybody writing great reviews of our content in the New York Times or the L.A. Times.”

Good reviews or poor ones, Zaslav is confident in a coming TLC resurgence: “I think we can build back up,” he said of the once-mighty reality channel.

Earlier in the 43rd Annual Global Media and Communications Conference panel, Zaslav took a swipe at certain unnamed subscriber video on demand platforms.

“Some of the SVOD platforms I just don’t think are rational,” he opined, kicking a little dirt on TV’s latest trend. “They only exist because of our content.”

“Essentially — not to be too pejorative — those are dumb pipes,” Zaslav added, vaguely speaking about unspecified devices, interfaces, and wires.

To avoid the “dumb” stuff, Zaslav predicted that his company will stick to its TV Everywhere push, an option that grants “more control of the consumer experience — and more curation by us, rather than others,” he said.

Discovery owns all of its own content, which isn’t the case of many competitors.

Other executive panels on Monday’s busy media conference schedule included AMC Networks, with boss Josh Sapan; Viacom, represented by Philippe Dauman; and Netflix, which brought Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos to the New York City stage.