Originally created 05/06/02

Discovery channels back off from plan to eliminate credits



NEW YORK -- The Discovery-owned cable channels have backed down from a plan to eliminate credits at the end of television programs.

The change had been criticized by many professionals who would see their names disappear from the screen. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' board also urged Discovery to reconsider.

Discovery said on Wednesday it would give producers of its shows the option to continue to show credits or try another approach, like directing viewers to a Web site that would list technical achievements.

Discovery believes - as do other networks that squeeze the size of credits or speed through them - that most viewers don't care about this information and begin channel surfing to avoid them.

John Ford, president of Discovery's content group, said most of the people who objected to the plan made fictional programs that Discovery doesn't air. On many of their channels, Discovery enlists outside producers to make nonfiction programming.

He was more interested in the concerns of Discovery's own producers, who he said "weren't so much upset as they had practical difficulties in implementing it."

For example, in some cases producers offered expert consultants on-air credits instead of payment, he said.

Discovery Communications operates 11 cable channels, including Discovery, the Travel Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, BBC America and Discovery Kids. Many producers worried that their proposed policy would quickly be imitated by other companies.

Discovery has offered to pay to set up credits on the Web. It has also offered producers the chance to air a limited number of credits at the beginning of programs.

Ford couldn't predict how many producers would take advantage of the new options.