Discovery Science Set to Air Newsmagazine

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Looking to please advertisers and buoyed by its growing digital distribution, Discovery Science Channel will launch a daily science newsmagazine show this fall.

Discovery is billing Science Daily, a co-production with Discovery Canada, as the first daily one-hour newsmagazine in the United States devoted to late-breaking science news.

The series will premiere on Discovery Science-part of the Discovery Networks U.S. package of digi-nets-Sept. 26 at 9 p.m., and will air weeknights.

"It's a significant step in the world of digital programming," said Charles Humbard, senior vice president and general manager of Discovery Networks U.S.' digital networks and advanced television.

The Toronto-based series is already in its fifth season in Canada, under the name @discovery.ca. It will be renamed Science Daily for its U.S. debut, and will add a Washington, D.C.-based news bureau and host. The new host will join the show's current talent, Jay Ingram and Gillian Deacon, who are based in Toronto.

Discovery will produce a large portion of Science Daily's content in the U.S. via the Washington bureau, according to Humbard.

Digital networks such as Discovery Science, which have limited distribution, have been slow to add original programming because their subscriber bases can't support it.

Discovery Science-part of a digi-net group that includes Discovery Home & Leisure Channel, Discovery Kids, Discovery Civilization Channel and Discovery Wings Channel-is available on the digital platforms of MSOs such as AT & T Broadband and Cox Communications Inc., as well as on EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network. Discovery officials couldn't supply a specific subscriber count for Discovery Science.

Science Daily will be part of the 400 to 500 hours of original programming Discovery Science will air in the next year, according to Humbard.

"It speaks to our belief and knowledge of how rapidly digital carriage is growing," Humbard said, "and we are now getting interest from advertisers who are looking at our content and channels. We want to build a good platform for our advertisers."

Discovery already runs ads on its digital networks, but many of them are direct-response spots.

Discovery Science already has a weekly original series, Science Live, which Humbard described as "topic-driven," rather than news-driven. But he added that viewers are accustomed to getting information with immediacy.

In fact, to help serve that need and to support Science Daily, Discovery Science will also air around-the-clock science-news updates.

"People don't want to wait for their news," Humbard said. "We have to program to better match up with that interest, so we have to be timely and we have to be daily."

In the near future, Science Daily will probably become more of a global effort, with reports and input from Discovery's many international channels, according to Humbard.

Discovery also has plans for a weekly topic-driven series for another one of its digital networks, Discovery Civilization. That show will probably debut by the end of the first quarter in 2001.

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