Discovery Clips Net’s Wings

Discovery Communications Inc. will enlist its Discovery Wings channel for a new tour of duty, renaming it Discovery Military Channel as of Jan. 10.

New programming on the channel, in 35 million households, will cover a wide swath of military-oriented topics, including strategy, technology, history, profiles and personal stories, senior vice president and general manager David Karp said.

“This is a natural evolution of the channel,” he said. “It serves a big topic that no one has done in as focused a way as we’re going to do.”

It will remain in the programmer’s suite of diginets, along with Discovery Home and Discovery Science, competing somewhat with the government-owned Pentagon Channel and, to an extent, The History Channel.

“What we’re going to do to be a player in the space is embrace the subject and expand and broaden it to cover a whole range of military experience,” Karp said.

History Channel executives would not comment, while Pentagon Channel executives could not be reached.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because independently owned The Military Channel launched in early 1998 but ran into financial problems. It was off the air a year later.

Karp said the new format should retain the Wings Channel’s predominately adult-male viewer. Much of what’s been on Wings is military oriented, but slanted to reflect the network’s aviation-themed concept.

New shows set for the channel include:

  • Delta Company: A two-hour special on a Marines tank battalion headed to Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom;
  • Task Force Red Dog, about Marine Corps reservists called to active duty and sent to Afghanistan; and
  • Goin’ Back: Iwo Jima, the first of a regular series of specials in which U.S. war veterans and their families return to the battlefields that came to define their lives.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.