Discovery Networks plan to eliminate on-screen credits raises IDA ire

The International Documentary Association (IDA) has assembled a broad coalition consisting of, among others, writers, actors, directors, producers to protest against the plans of Discovery Communications to stop screening end title credits on Discovery Networks. 

News reports which appeared last week in America said Discovery executives were planning to eliminate on-screen credits during meetings with selected non-fiction programme producers. 

Newspaper and trade articles reported that credits would be replaced with listings on a website. Discovery executives have put the blame on the doorstep of viewers who they claim are "channel surfing away" from the cable networks' channels during the 30 seconds it typically takes to screen credits.

IDA President Michael Donaldson said: "There are creative solutions to the channel surfing problem that will be fairer to non-fiction filmmakers, and also to the viewers who have an inherent right to know who produced the programs they are watching. Eliminating credits is the equivalent of publishing news stories without bylines and making works of art anonymous. The names of authors of non-fiction programs are vital subtext for the stories they tell."

One of the issues raised at the first Documentary Credits Coalition (DCC) meeting was the fact that many people participate in the production of non-fiction films with minimal and sometimes no financial compensation because they believe it is a story that deserves to be told. Credits in titles are their main compensation.

Donaldson went on to say that the proposed move from Discovery undermined the independent spirit that John Hendricks embraced when he founded Discovery in 1985.

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