Koppel, Nine Others Join Discovery


Former Nightline anchor and managing editor Ted Koppel has joined the Discovery Communications Inc. camp.

Koppel -- a 42-year veteran of ABC News, best known for the network's late-night news-analysis show that ended its 25-year run in November -- will serve as managing editor at Discovery Channel, where he and nine other Nightline staffers, including executive producer Tom Bettag, are committed to producing at least six long-form shows per year examining major global topics and events.

Home Box Office had been negotiating with Koppel. Discovery Networks U.S. president Billy Campbell said Discovery began going after Koppel a little over one month ago, before finalizing a multiyear deal.

During a conference call announcing the acclaimed newsman's hiring, Campbell said Koppel and crew would work on projects that could be "reacted to overnight and turned around within several days to a week," as well as projects that would gestate over six months to one year.

"There will be one- or two-hour shows that could be followed by a town-hall meeting, if the topic merits," he added.

"We would look at events of giant proportions, like a 9/11 or a Katrina," Koppel said, noting that he and his crew could weigh in on other stories like the coal-mine situation in West Virginia within one week with a story on "mine safety."

Koppel said it was Discovery's "tremendous enthusiasm" for such stories, flexibility and the availability of time -- particularly during weeknight primetime -- that attracted him to the network.

He noted that if the broadcast networks and even the all-news cable channels were asked to commit to several hours in primetime to long-form and/or documentary programming exploring certain topics, "it just wouldn't happen."

Koppel said the first show would likely appear on Discovery in late summer or early fall.