Ted Koppel, Discovery End Partnership Early
Discovery to focus on non-news content with a longer shelf life.
By Alex Weprin -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/25/2008 6:21:00 AM
Ted Koppel and Discovery Communications have decided to end their partnership six months early. Discovery says the decision to dissolve the agreement was mutual and amicable.
Koppel joined the company in January 2006 as managing editor with a three year deal, bringing with him his executive producer, Tom Bettag, and eight staffers from Nightline.
Since he joined the company, David Zaslav has come on board as CEO, and John Ford has been named president and GM of its flagship Discovery Channel.
"There has been significant change in senior management at Discovery,” Koppel said announcing the decision. “Producing our kind of news-related programs is an expensive proposition. It has long been clear that neither of us is interested in an extension of the current contract. Discovery and I worked on terminating the contract a few months early under terms that both sides found acceptable. We leave with gratitude for the professional opportunities we've been given and for the generosity with which we've been treated."
Koppel produced a number of critically acclaimed documentaries for the channel, dubbed Koppel on Discovery, examining issues such as cancer (through Koppel's friend Leroy Sievers), and multi-hour specials on China and Iran.
Discovery says that Koppel’s programs, while valuable and informative, were not where the brand was heading. Rather, the network plans to focus on “long-running series and specials in the network's core nonfiction genres and emphasizes non-news content that has a longer shelf life and appeals to audiences around the world.”
“We want timeless programming that has shelf life, and also programming that can go global,” John Ford, president and GM of Discovery Channel told B&C. “Given that, it is not as great a fit as one might have thought before. Anything Ted Koppel does is topical, but it is from an American journalist’s point of view. The core of discovery is continuing along that timeless and global route. There is just less and less of an interest in things that have a short shelf life.”
Koppel is a senior analyst for NPR. He also will continue to appear on BBC World News America, where he became a contributing analyst during BBC America's election coverage.
"We have an ongoing relationship/agreement with Ted and that has been and will continue to be really good for the program," said Rome Hartman, World News America executive producer. "I'd love to see that relationship strengthened and deepened."
November 26, 2008
Koppel has done good journalism for a long time. He has his own style and voice - serious, measured, generally well thought out. Some might say he''''s an old-fashioned journalist, but we can still use some of that.
Hope he catches on somewhere he''''ll be seen and heard.
Paul Kellogg - 11/27/2008 12:07:00 AM EST
November 26, 2008
Koppel has done good journalism for a long time. He has his own style and voice - serious, measured, generally well thought out. Some might say he''s an old-fashioned journalist, but we can still use some of that.
Hope he catches on somewhere he''ll be seen and heard.
Paul Kellogg - 11/27/2008 12:03:00 AM EST
TED: PBS needs to do a non-commercial, rich content 24-hour news channel. DTV opens up the channel capacity for such a nationwide, over the air all-newser. If PBS did an all-news channel, many older cable subscribers (the ones who signed up "for the reception") would put up antennas and kiss cable goodbye, especially in a tough economy. NPR and BBC content could provide the core for such a service. I am hereby nominating you to be president and editorial director of a new PBS all-news TV channel. If it happens, I will be in touch. If not, get a sponsor who will keep hands off the content and put it up on your own website. In the new media world, you don't necessarily need "the suits" to provide valued TV programming.
Vic Livingston, columnist, members.nowpublic.com/scrivener - 11/25/2008 8:42:00 PM EST
Hey Joe--why do you hate ordinary people who work for a living and the key demographics advertisers want, ivory tower intellectual elitist snob? Why don't you go kill yourself and let the new generation take over, senile old fart?
Elitism Fighter - 11/25/2008 5:41:00 PM EST
The continual dumbing down of society through "branding" and cutbacks! Thanks Ted for your journalistic brillance over the years and may it continue in any form. Joy and agape'...Joe "Knozit" Pinner
Joe Pinner - 11/25/2008 4:47:00 PM EST
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