Discovery Times To Cast Global Gaze


Los Angeles— The newly formatted Discovery Times Channel will launch March 25 with several specials, series and short-form segments, including an early look at front-page stories from The New York Times.

The digital network, formerly known as Discovery Civilization Channel, will look to put current events in historical perspective using the combined resources of network co-owners Discovery and The New York Times Co., said Discovery Times senior vice president and general manager Vivian Schiller at the Television Critics Association press tour here last week.

Last April, NYT plunked down $100 million to buy a 50 percent stake in the channel.

The network's primetime lineup will be organized around a single theme each night, led by original specials on Tuesdays. Each month, Schiller added, the network will develop programming focusing on a general topic, such as automobiles in April.

At 10 p.m., the network will also offer Page One, a three-minute nightly segment that will feature an exclusive first look at the stories that will appear on the front page of the next day's The New York Times.

Currently in 26 million households, the network hopes to add at least another 8 million to 10 million subscribers by the end of the year, according to Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Bill Goodwyn.

The network's rate card would not differ from the current Discovery Civilization service, Goodwyn added, although he would not provide specific details.

While the channel's current model was successful, it needed to do something different, Schiller said.

"[Civilization] didn't have a singular focus," Schiller said. "For us to truly make a mark, we had to cut out a more specialized niche."

The network will launch with a one-hour special, Al Qaeda 2.0, focusing on the terrorist organization in the post-Sept. 11 world. Discovery Times will also telecast a special, tentatively titled Terror's Children, documenting the lives of Afghani children in Pakistani refugee camps.

Other upcoming Discovery Times Channel programming includes Thomas Friedman: Searching for the Roots of 9/11, a series of short-form programs featuring the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist; and In Their Own Words With Sir David Frost, reairings of several Frost interviews with luminaries like Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Burton, former President Clinton, Billy Graham and John Lennon.