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Discovery Channel President Vows No More Stupid Monster Stunts

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MegalodonIf you’re one of those people who hates it when you turn on a channel that’s supposed to be scientific, or at least science based, and get irritated when you see some nonsense, you’re in luck. Now under new leadership, Discover Channel vows that all of the publicity stunts, ratings grabs, and not-really-science spectacles are all going the way of the dinosaurs.

According to Entertainment Weekly, this is in response to viewer reaction to a slew of ridiculous programming choices that go against the scientific mission of the network. One instance cited is Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, a fictional movie they aired during the last Shark Week that is a faux documentary about the “serial killer of the sea.” Sister station Animal Planet’s fascination with mermaids has also been the source of much consternation among audiences.

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TV Review: The Challenger Disaster Is A Surprisingly Compelling And Profound Docudrama

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I remember January 28, 1986. I was seven years old. I, like so many other excited students, gathered in the cafeteria of my school just before lunch to watch the Challenger take off. I didn’t know a whole lot about space back then, except that it was far away, huge, and mysterious, and that those qualities also made it pretty cool. I had absorbed by then, though, that going into space was Important. It was one of those adventures that has and hopefully will continue to define humankind. I also knew that on board that ship was a teacher who also happened to be a woman. This brought the mission much closer to home for me, as it did for so many people. I remember watching the liftoff and clapping along with everyone else, even the folks in NASA’s control room.

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The Challenger Disaster Docudrama Will Simulcast On Science Channel And Discovery

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challenger crewGravity‘s recent box office success proves that people are interested in space-set disasters, probably because it’s been quite a few years since such a tragedy struck in real life. Do you remember where you were on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger met its disastrous end over the Atlantic Ocean? The Challenger Disaster, Science Channel’s first foray into scripted programming, will allow viewers to experience a dramatized version of the events when it airs on November 16th. In an effort to get the film out to an even wider audience, Discovery Channel will be simulcasting the film, which was co-produced by the BBC, at 9 p.m. Given Discovery still occasionally airs things that are about science and space, it’s a good move for everyone involved.

This year, Science Channel has averaged around 304,000 viewers, with 117,000 in key demographics, while Discovery Channel is getting around 1.3 million viewers, with 660,000 in the 18-49 set. Surely, the increase in viewers still equals to numbers much smaller than many hit dramas on other cable stations, but it’s a big one percentage-wise, and this film should definitely get more viewers than the averages. I’m going to watch it on Science Channel because I like an underdog.

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The Discovery Channel’s New Privately Funded Telescope Opens Its Doors

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Space, the private frontier. It looks like private corporations are pushing forward not only space travel these days, but astronomy as well. Last Saturday night, the Discovery Channel opened the doors on its brand-new, privately funded telescope in Happy Jack, Arizona. The First Light Gala event featured a keynote speech by none other than Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, and the telescope is already getting some great pictures. The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) is the culmination of a partnership between Discovery Communications and the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The 4.3 meter mirror on the DCT makes it 5thlargest optical telescope in the continental U.S., proving that you can still get something for your $53 million these days. The primary goals of the new scope are to study the Kuiper Belt, a region littered with left-overs from our solar system’s formation outside the orbit of Neptune that stretches up to 50 AUs out from the sun, and small dwarf galaxies. Discovery News Space Producer, Ian O’Neill is particularly excited by this new privately funded powerhouse:

I’m excited by the outreach opportunities that the Lowell/Discovery Channel combo will bring. Bringing hardcore research astronomy to the mainstream will be particularly exciting. But as far as research is concerned, I really hope that the DCT will give an insight to the mysteries of star formation inside dwarf galaxies, thereby helping to evolve galaxy formation models. Plus, it’s a freakin’ HUGE telescope, it’s just cool to know I’ll have a ringside seat to see what this monster can do!