Discovery to Produce U.S. Parks-Related Fare

Discovery Communications Inc., expanding on its existing partnership with the National Park Service, will produce several annual television specials and public-service announcements related to the nation's parks, as well as films for visitor centers.

Under the three-year agreement, DCI and the National Park Service will collaborate to raise awareness of the U.S. government's 379 diverse parks, historical sites and monuments. As part of this effort, DCI will be designated as a corporate partner in the multi-year "Proud Partners of America's National Parks" program, whose goal is to increase the public's knowledge about what the national parks offer.

"The parks really need a voice with the American public," said Jill Nicoll, executive vice president of the National Park Foundation.

Under the agreement, DCI will produce a total of four projects a year. Those will consist of National Park-related TV specials and 30-second PSAs for the "Proud Partner" campaign to promote the agency's public-awareness effort, according to Carrie Passmore, DCI's senior vice president of public partnerships.

DCI's stable of services- Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Animal Planet and Travel Channel-will be the beneficiaries of the television shows produced through the partnership, Passmore said.

"From the content aspect, this has very positive impact for us," she said. "It gives us unique and unprecedented access to the parks-the rangers, the animals, the back country."

In addition, DCI will produce at least two in-park visitor center films per year and two region-specific PSAs for use in the parks. Those films, from 10 minutes to 20 minutes long, will employ the Discovery name. DCI is currently shooting one on Mt. Rushmore that is expected to be ready by next May.

DCI has been working with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for more than three years. That partnership involved a $300,000 contribution from DCI toward renovation of the Washington Monument. The relationship evolved into a media partnership between the National Park Foundation and DCI, which produced an hour-long special on the monument that aired on Discovery Channel July 3.

DCI also built a temporary interactive visitor center at the base of the Washington Monument that opened in February 1999 and closed recently.

When the monument was closed for renovations, visitors could stop by Discovery's facility. It boasted 1 million visitors.

"That's how we cut our teeth with the parks service," Passmore said.