Discovery's Burns Takes Science Helm


Committing more talent and resources to the service, Discovery Networks U.S. promoted in-house last week, naming Steve Burns senior vice president and general manager of The Science Channel.

Emmy-winner Burns most recently served as senior vice president of production for Discovery Channel, where he oversaw a staff of 24 and was responsible for more than 80 hours of original production a year.

"Discovery Channel had done wonderfully elegant science programs and Discovery Channel will continue to do great programs," Burns said. "But The Science Channel is the opportunity for drilling a bit deeper into these science topics, because it will be a niche audience that has shown a preference for great science programming."

Discovery relaunched Discovery Science Channel, a digital service, as The Science Channel more than a year ago, adding more original fare to its lineup. Now the network is in 31.5 million homes, and Discovery plans to dedicate new programming, marketing and management resources to it, which is where Burns' appointment comes in.

Previously, The Science Channel didn't have its own general manager and instead fell under the purview of David Karp, Discovery Digital Networks senior vice president and general manager.

One "trick" to programming The Science Channel "will be connecting with the scientists that are great communicators, who can bring the excitement of their part of science to a broad audience that appreciates detail," said Burns.

It has yet to be decided how much additional resources, namely funding, The Science Channel will actually get from corporate headquarters, he added.

"We're going to be — during the normal budgetary process that starts in July and ends in August – fine-tuning just what that commitment will be," he said.

That's when Burns also said he will learn how much original programming, his forte, he will be able to bring to The Science Channel.

Burns is an 11-year veteran who was responsible for 15 of Discovery's top 25 documentaries, including Walking With Dinosaurs.