Discovery Health Channel will celebrate its third anniversary in August with a renewed mission to tackle controversial and often-ignored health issues through original series and specials.
In the fall season, the network will address such current health issues as AIDS, diabetes and mental health — topics which don't receive a lot of national media attention, but continue to affect millions of lives, according to Discovery Health senior vice president and general manager Bob Reid.
The female-skewing network — currently in nearly 38 million households, but headed north of the 40 million mark this year — will team with the American Diabetes Association to develop three specials on that subject during Diabetes Awareness Month in November. Diabetes In Minorities
will focus on the devastating affects of the disease in minority communities; In Search of a Miracle
will explore the various diabetes treatments; and Face of Diabetes
will be a three-hour event that takes viewers to the front lines of the fight against the disease.
The partnership will also spawn a diabetes-related episode of the new series Medical Profile
, which looks at how celebrities deal with chronic and often-debilitating illnesses.
Discovery Health will also team with the American Psychological Association to co-produce a special related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It will focus on helping viewers work through personal tragedies, Reid said.
A third alliance, with the American Cancer Society, will yield several co-produced specials tied to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
"These associations have partnered with us because they understand that we are the place to come for information on health and health-related issues," Reid said. "And the partnerships are a natural way for us to extend our reach and contribute to the medical health community."
Other topical health specials slated for fall include 9/11 Babies,
a special on babies born after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; Scene Smoking, an uncensored forum that debates how on-screen smoking affects kids; AIDS at 21, a critical look at the now-mature disease; and Is Love Enough?,
which tackles the issue of mentally retarded parents who raise kids.
"Our mission is to call attention to subjects that are important, but are not embraced by other outlets," Reid said. "If we can inform and educate our viewers then hopefully we can positively affect their health."
The specials will join several new Discovery Health series, including Uh Oh! Baby Bloopers, which showcases kids' antics on home videos, and Diagnosis Unknown, which uncovers strange and rare diseases and the procedures used to treat them.
The new series and specials will complement the network's current array of health-related reality and documentary shows. The network will renew its freshman female-targeted, sex-issue show, Berman & Berman: For Women Only. The network will also return a first-year reality series, Body Challenge, which pits overweight and out-of-shape people in a contest to see who can best reach their fitness goals.
Reid would not disclose the network's programming budget for the new season.