Ted Koppel, his hair, and much of his staff from ABC’s Nightline, signed a three-year deal yesterday with the Discovery Channel — the home of sharks and choppers — to produce and host at least six long-form specials per year “examining major global topics and events.”
A 42-year veteran of ABC News until Nightline went off the air in November, Koppel will be Managing Editor at the Discovery Channel, and is joined at Discovery Communications by longtime Executive Producer Tom Bettag and eight former Nightline staff members.
Discovery president Billy Campbell said, “With Ted Koppel and his team, Discovery is making a long-term commitment to produce high quality programming that gives our global audience insight, perspective and analysis beyond just the headlines. Our objective is to create a more substantial approach to in-depth journalism. We want audiences to know that when there is a major world event or topic that affects our lives, and they are looking for more context, more depth and more information, Discovery Channel is where they will find it.”
“The ten of us are enormously excited to be at a place that wants nothing more than to produce the kind of television journalism that focuses on issues that matter to the largest number of people,” Koppel added. “We look forward to creating quality programming that provides the in-depth information for which Discovery Channel is known.”
Among the efforts planned is a series of town hall meetings that will “examine some of the most important issues in the world today,” and begin airing in fall 2006.
Koppel was the anchor and managing editor of ABC News’ Nightline, one of the most honored broadcasts in television history, from 1980 (spurred by the Iran hostage crisis) until late last year. As the nation’s longest running network daily news anchor, his interviews and reporting touched every major news story over the past 25 years.
Koppel — a native of Lancashire, England who moved to the United States with his parents when he was 13 years old — has won 40 Emmy Awards, six George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 duPont-Columbia Awards, and two George Polk Awards. His 10 Overseas Press Club Awards make him the most honored journalist in the club’s history and he is an inductee in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Koppel and friends reportedly began negotiating with Discovery after a deal with HBO fell apart at the last minute.