Discovery Health Seeks Higher Profile for Originals

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In an effort to generate greater awareness, Discovery Health Channel wants to build a roster of celebrities and well-known industry personalities to host its new series and specials.

The network, known for such reality series as Body Challenge and Adoption Stories, will look by early 2005 to replace about 40% of its current schedule with more personality-driven content that will remain true to the network’s health-and-medical roots, according to Discovery Health interim general manager Eileen O’Neill.

To that end, the network last week named talk-show personality Regis Philbin to host its inaugural Discovery Health Channel Medical Honors award show, scheduled to air July 8.

O’Neill said the network is talking to several other celebrities about appearing on the program, which will honor individuals and organizations dedicated to improving and protecting health around the world.

O’Neill also pointed to last week’s launch of Daily Rounds, a series of daily news segments hosted by veteran broadcast journalist Mary Alice Williams, as an example of how the network plans to roll out new programming with strong and recognizable leads.

The five-minute segments, which air prior to the network’s daily primetime schedule, focus on two or three health-related topics, either breaking news or trends.

Coming in July is Dr. G: Medical Examiner, which features renowned forensic pathologist Jan Garavaglia. “In the next nine months, there will be a far stronger impact of series and recognizable talent established on the network,” said O’Neill, without disclosing more specifics.

She also said the network wants to create a greater sense of relevancy and personalization for viewers, which may include even more “compelling” footage of health-related procedures and experiences.

“We’re definitely going to up the ante on the content,” she said.

O’Neill said the content changes will be supported by an aggressive marketing campaign that will focus on the network’s new series, as well as its established specials and series such as Birth Day.

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