Discovery Networks U.S. announced on June 27 that it has dropped plans to create a website to house program production credits. The Bethesda, U.S.-based company acknowledges that it made the decision following discussions with several producers and the Documentary Credits Coalition (DCC), an ad hoc group representing various industry guilds and unions, and the International Documentary Association (IDA), among others.
Although Discovery planned to give producers a choice between keeping credits on the screen or migrating most credits to the Web, many in the industry remained concerned, as evidenced by the creation of the DCC. Says Michael Donaldson, co-chair of the DCC and IDA president: ‘It was a broader group than one is usually able to get together on any issue.’
According to John Ford, president of the Content Group for Discovery Networks U.S., a meeting with representatives from the DCC helped him understand the broader implications of Discovery’s actions. ‘The big concern was, ‘What will other networks that are not as producer-friendly as Discovery do?” he says. ‘Once we realized we would be having a very difficult discussion that really wasn’t about us, it didn’t make sense to continue down that road.’
The final version of Discovery’s Credits Options Plan offers producers the choice of keeping credits as they currently exist – 30 seconds at the end of the program – or shifting credits to the beginning of a show.
For the production community, the outcome is satisfying. ‘I give Discovery credit for listening, even though I think it was under pressure from the press,’ says one doc-maker. ‘Although the credits are now too fast, too small and practically unreadable, it’s still important for the credits to be on there.’
As for the DCC, the membership isn’t necessarily ready to disband. It will meet in August to determine its future.