Discovery Communications and the Koppel Group have decided to part ways in advance of the expiration of their contract.
The amicable agreement comes six months before the conclusion of the contract at the end of May 2009.
"There has been significant change in senior management at Discovery. Producing our kind of news-related programs is an expensive proposition,” Koppel said in a statement. “It has long been clear that neither of us is interested in an extension of the current contract. Discovery and I worked on terminating the contract a few months early under terms that both sides found acceptable. We leave with gratitude for the professional opportunities we've been given and for the generosity with which we've been treated."
The Koppel Group joined Discovery Channel amidst much fanfare in January 2006 as managing editor, bringing with him his long-time executive producer, Tom Bettag, and eight additional producers and staff members, following the end of their run at ABC’s Nightline. The group produced 15 hours of programming, including seven original documentaries for Discovery, which said it is continuing its emphasis on series and specials in nonfiction genres that have longer shelf lives and appeal to audiences globally.
Among the Koppel Group’s projects for Discovery: a recent four-hour series on China; a two-hour broadcast on Iran; and a look at how society is impacted by over-crowded prisons. The most personal project was the combined documentary and town meeting, Living with Cancer, which focused on the group's long-time colleague and friend, Leroy Sievers, who died last summer after a three-year battle with the disease.
"We've had some glorious opportunities to produce the kinds of documentaries that Tom Bettag and I love," said Koppel. "Among the most satisfying work we've ever done was last summer's four-part series on China."
Noted Discovery Channel president and general manager John Ford: “Ted and his dedicated team have delivered remarkable, in-depth and unflinching portraits of issues affecting our lives and our planet -- and for that we are proud and grateful. Ted and his colleagues are gifted storytellers who raise the journalistic bar for our entire industry. They will be missed at Discovery and we wish them the best in the future."