Discovery Health Seeks Ratings Elixir

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Discovery Health Network will bolster its original programming lineup with a host of new series and specials, as well as a first-ever health industry awards show.

Bob Reid, the channel's senior vice president and general manager, said he hopes the new and returning programs will lead the 42 million subscriber network to a double-digit ratings increase, above the 0.2 household mark it hit in 2002.

"It's a tough competitive environment, but we believe we have a unique line of programming to offer," he said, declining to disclose the network's overall programming budget. "We have a dramatic, storytelling approach that competed favorably with more fiction-based programming on other networks.

"We're about real-life stories, and there's no greater drama than the experiences that people live through."

Headlining the new programming slate is the January 2004 premiere of the network's first awards show, tentatively titled the American Medical Honors.
Likened to more established events like the Kennedy Center Honors
and AFI Salutes, the show will "recognize the best and the brightest in the medical professions from doctors to nurses to institutions that improve the quality of medical care or save lives," Reid said.

Daytime debuts

Discovery Health will challenge Hallmark Channel's franchise series Adoption
with the spring debut of Adoption Stories.
The daytime show will follow prospective parents through the adoption process, Reid said.

Another spring daytime series premiere, I Lost It, will chronicle people who have lost 30 pounds or more.

Slated for a fourth-quarter bow is Buff Brides, a reality series following several women as they look to lose weight in preparation for their upcoming weddings.

In a similar vein, returning this fall is the sophomore series Discovery Health Body Challenge.
Along with the traditional component — which pits contestants against each other in a weight-loss competition — the network will launch National Body Challenge, in which the cities home to the most obese residents will compete to lose weight and shape up, during fourth-quarter 2004.

The network's female-targeted sexual health series Berman and Berman
will also return next fall, but reduced in frequency to a weekly show.

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