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NGC Eyes Storytelling During Primetime

3/04/2004 10:10 AM Eastern

New York -- National Geographic Channel plans to explore new territory in terms of its programming, with jazzier shows that focus on dramatic storytelling and with a push into new turf, namely science and technology.

"We’re pushing the boundaries of the brand while remaining true to the roots," executive vice president of programming John Ford said."What we really want people to do is to say, ‘You know, I never thought I’d see that on National Geographic, but I’m glad that I did.’ We want them to be pleasantly surprised."

NGC, which held its upfront event here, has eight new shows set for the new season, with all but one of the one-hour programs slotted for primetime.

Overall, the network is doubling its investment in video content and more than doubling its hours of original programming to over 300 new hours this coming year, according to Ford.

The roster of eight new shows -- most of which are set to debut the week of Sept. 13 -- includes: Interpol,which reconstructs international crime scenes; Seconds from Disaster,which explains in detail, and then re-creates, dramatic catastrophes like the Chernobyl explosion; Mayday!,which looks at high-profile air disasters; and Expeditions to the Edge, which traces the missteps of scientists and adventurers.

The network is tweaking its scheduling and changing the types of shows it’s doing in an effort to lift its ratings. NGC averaged a 0.2 primetime rating last year, flat compared with the prior year, and a 0.1 for total day, also even, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

September