Today The New York Times announced it will take the opportunity to cash out its $100-million investment in the Discovery Times channel. “[I]t has become clear that our investment dollar is better spent developing video for our own nytimes.com,” says the memo, reproduced below.
In the April 10 issue, the Observer reported, based on documents obtained by the Rocky Mountain News, that the Times might take advantage of a window in its agreement with Discovery Communications that would allow the paper to sell its stake.
When The Times joined forces with Discovery Communications to create the Discovery Times Channel, the idea was to find more ways to project our news values beyond the pages of the newspaper. Three years later, we have a lot to be proud of. The partnership clicked. In a very short time the channel emerged as one of the top venues for high-quality documentary journalism, winning Emmys and other awards by the bucketful. It also makes a respectable amount of money, having turned the corner to profitability much faster than anyone anticipated.
Today, however, we are announcing that we are selling our interest in Discovery Times back to Discovery. This is a strategic and business decision, not a journalistic one. The world has changed a lot in three years, and it has become clear that our investment dollar is better spent developing video for our own nytimes.com.
The folks at Discovery have said they intend to keep the Channel going in its present form. In that we wish them continued success. It also means that we can continue to collaborate on television projects for the channel, along with some of Discovery’s other networks, and places like Frontline and HBO.
Jon & Tom