News in Brief

Discovery Networks pledges US$2.5 billion for programming; PBS announces new 'P.O.V.' lineup; U.K. regulator fines satellite channel for breaking programming rules
March 27, 2003

Silver Spring, U.S.-based Discovery Networks has pledged to pour US$2.5 billion into new domestic programming across its 13 cable and digital networks in 2003-2004. Approximately $1 billion will be pumped into Discovery Channel U.S. alone, doubling the number of original productions of series and specials. The plans include expanding Discovery Channel’s recently launched ‘Spotlight’ slot for independently produced current-events docs (See RealScreen, March 2003).

Separately, Discovery Communications has secured an exclusive multi-year partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute, a pact that includes the development of several specials for Discovery’s Animal Planet. Goodall, the primatologist made famous by National Geographic Magazine and its television unit, said she was drawn to Animal Planet because of its global reach. The deal will help spread her conservation message, she said. Goodall has not broken all ties with Discovery’s archrival, noting she maintains a relationship with Nat Geo magazine.

Finally, Discovery Networks International has partnered with Motorola in an agreement that will result in Discovery content being plugged into cellular phones in Latin America. The first application is called The Discovery Challenge, a trivia game.

The acclaimed PBS doc strand ‘P.O.V.’ has unveiled the line-up for its 16th season. It kicks off in June with Linda Goode Bryant and Laura Poitras’s Flag Wars, followed by Annie Goldson’s Georgie Girl. Other films include Patricia Flynn and Mary Jo McConahay’s Discovering Dominga and Elaine Epstein’s State of Denial.

The London, U.K.-based Independent Television Commission has slapped a penalty of £20,000 (US$32,000) on U.K. lifestyle channel, You TV, ‘for continued and repeated breaches’ of the wall between advertising and programming. In a statement released March 24, the ITC admonished the nine-month-old satellite channel: ‘It is unacceptable to try to pass off what were, essentially, advertisements for products as programs. The Commission was also concerned that profits were made by its [U.S.] sister channel Shop America from some of the products featured on You TV’s ‘programs’.’ The ITC noted You TV admitted it was in the wrong and has vowed to make appropriate changes.

London, U.K.-based BBC Worldwide, the Beeb’s commercial arm, has disclosed that its total media exports rose by 13% to US$362 million in 2001-2002 from $322 million in the earlier period. Its penetration of the North American market grew by about 16% on the back of format sales and factual series such as The Blue Planet and Walking with Beasts.

London, U.K.-based distributor Granada International has secured a three-year deal to carry two of CNN’s flagship brands, as well as certain back-catalog programs. The renewable agreement covers World in View and Front Page Profiles – two of the Atlanta, U.S.-based news channel’s top titles.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.