New York Times and Discovery Announce Civilization Channel

Posted on April 11, 2002

The New York Times Company and Discovery Communications have announced a joint venture to co-own and develop the Discovery Civilization Channel into a network for history programming, from ancient to contemporary; current events; changing world cultures, and geographic journeys. In addition, the two companies announced a programming output agreement under which DCI will produce and purchase programming from The Times's television production unit over the next five years.

Discovery Civilization Channel is one of six channels DCI launched in 1996 -- Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, the Travel Channel and Discovery Health Channel. Since then, Discovery Civilization Channel, has focused programming on epic events, great leaders and changing cultures from ancient times through to the 21st Century. The partners will expand the network's programming to include fresh approaches on current events and contemporary history, but will not focus on breaking news. The partners also plan to increase the Channel's distribution in the next several years, to use the Times's brands extensively across the Channel and to use their media outlets to market and cross-promote the Channel.

"This strategic partnership puts us among leading news organizations taking advantage of the convergence of communication technologies and furthers our goal of providing high-quality news, information and entertainment across media," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company and publisher of The New York Times. "Just as we successfully extended our content to the Internet with, we are continuing our move into the rapidly growing medium of digital cable television for the benefit of our knowledge-hungry audience.

"With our new partner The Times, Discovery Civilization Channel will be the network for audiences to take a journey through times, then and now," said John S. Hendricks, DCI founder, chairman and CEO. "This partnership between two of the most respected media companies around the world represents an enormous vote of confidence in the future of quality television."

Under the terms of the joint venture, The Times has invested $100 million to buy a 50 percent ownership position in Discovery Civilization Channel. DCI will own the other 50 percent and will continue to control and manage the Channel, which will be governed by a Board of Directors with three DCI representatives and two Times representatives. In addition, an editorial board, with equal representation from both DCI and The Times, will direct appropriate subject areas for the Channel, which will continue to be operated from DCI headquarters in Bethesda, Md.

DCI will engage the services of The Times's television production unit to produce $40 million of programming over the next five years. The programming will be produced for various DCI channels, including Discovery Civilization. In addition, The Times will produce short segments for Discovery Civilization that will introduce and complement programs from DCI's library. Over the past six years, DCI and The Times have jointly produced a number of programs, including the award winning Trauma: Life in the ER, Maternity Ward and Paramedics for TLC; World Birthday for Discovery Health; and On the Inside: Wall Street for Discovery Channel.