January 4, 2006

‘Nightline’s’ Koppel to join Discovery Channel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Veteran journalist Ted Koppel, who
built ABC's "Nightline" into an American institution over 25
years, will join the Discovery Channel to make news
documentaries, the channel said on Wednesday.

Discovery Communications said Koppel, 65, would be managing
editor at the channel and would be joined by longtime executive
producer Tom Bettag and eight other former "Nightline" staff.

Koppel's departure from "Nightline" in November after 42
years with ABC News was part of a generational shift in U.S.
television news. NBC's Tom Brokaw stepped down in December
2004, followed soon after by Dan Rather of CBS. The third major
network news anchorman, Peter Jennings of ABC, died of cancer
in August.

With network news under pressure from the Internet and
24-hour cable stations, the networks have been changing faces
and formats to keep viewers. "Nightline" has been relaunched
with three anchors covering several topics each night.

In his final broadcast on "Nightline," Koppel asked viewers
to give his successors a chance, warning that otherwise the
network "will just put another comedy show in this time slot."

More than three years ago, the revelation that ABC had
quietly sought to recruit comedian David Letterman to host a
new talk show to replace "Nightline" sparked a furor.

Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks US, said in
a statement Koppel and his team would bring "insight,
perspective and analysis beyond just the headlines."

"Our objective is to create a more substantial approach to
in-depth journalism," he said.

Koppel said he was excited to be going to a channel "that
wants nothing more than to produce the kind of television
journalism that focuses on issues that matter to the largest
number of people."

Discovery said Koppel had signed a multiyear deal and his
first program was scheduled to air in fall 2006.