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Discovery confident TLC can beat Lifetime

Discovery’s international programming boss Luis Silberwasser has told TBIvision that he is confident TLC will become the pre-eminent international network for women and that the company is keen to reach out to the production community to secure the best content for the channel.

TLC will be going up against, among others, Lifetime, the female-skewing channel owned by AETN, which is also rolling out internationally.

“TLC is unique because it will be a global brand before anything else,” says Silberwasser who was upped to international head of content in March after a successful stint running the programming at the company’s Latin and US Hispanic services. “We will be bigger than anyone else trying to do something similar. We saw the opportunity to launch the channel last year, will be launching this year and will be as aggressive as we can.”

AETN and Discovery are fierce competitors in the factual space with each vying to be the top channels and content provider. “We are the largest non-fiction company around the world,” AETN president and CEO Abbe Raven recently told TBIvision.

Last month  a dedicated international content unit was created, to produce local programming for TLC. Discovery often puts up all or most of the funding for shows and in return takes all of the rights.

Silberwasser admits it may need to be more flexible to secure the very best content. “We want to be able to work with the best producers. We have our own philosophy and business terms, but these may have to evolve. This is a new Discovery with (new COO) Peter Ligouri and (new executive VP, global production management, business and legal affairs) Lee Bartlett and they will bring their own approaches.”

Internationally, TLC will be positioned slightly differently to its US counterpart. Silberwasser says: “It will be an entertainment and lifestyle brand. Internationally, it will be slightly more urban and the audience will be slightly more comfortable with entertainment programming. The broad demo is 25s to 49s and if you want to pin it down further it is 25s to 35s.”

Discovery launched TLC internationally in Norway in March and has said it will be in 100 million homes by spring 2011. It subsequently launched in Poland, Bulgaria and Slovenia on October 1 and new carriage deals will be announced shortly.