New ‘Years of Living Dangerously” Season Expands Reach on (Murdoch owned) NatGeo
August 11, 2016
National Geographic Channel will premiere Season 2 of the critically-acclaimed TV series, “Years of Living Dangerously” Sunday, October 30 at 8 pm (ET).
The focus of Episode 1, with correspondents David Letterman (!) and Cecily Strong (of “Saturday Night Live”), is solar energy — in India and the United States. Later episodes feature Jack Black, Gisele Bündchen, Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Don Cheadle, America Ferrera, Thomas Friedman, Joshua Jackson, Aasif Mandvi, Nikki Reed, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder, Sigourney Weaver and Bradley Whitford.
Three facts elevate this above the typical TV premiere announcement:
- “Years” is the first documentary series devoted to climate change ever to appear on a major network or premium cable.
- “New Season Scheduled to Air Just Over a Week Before the Presidential Election,” as the National Geographic Channel (NGC) release proclaims in its sub-head.
- NGC’s majority owner (73 percent) is 21st Century Fox, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, which is well known for its climate disinformation.
Last fall, many people expressed concern about how science and climate coverage would be treated when National Geographic Society expanded its long-standing partnership with Fox to include National Geographic magazine and its online media platforms in a $725 million deal. After all, there is so little climate or clean energy programming on any major TV channel, the U.S. media in general have under-reported the story of the century, and, as we ourselves have reported over the years, “Watching Fox News Addicts Viewers And Misinforms Them On Climate Change.”
Having already seen the footage for the early episodes of Season 2 (in my role as Chief Science Advisor), I can personally attest that this season’s science-driven episodes are every bit as blunt about the urgent nature of the climate crisis as Season 1 was. And this time around we have even more material on the necessary solutions, from aggressive deployment of clean energy to a price on carbon.
Last year, Courteney Monroe, the CEO of National Geographic Channels, explained why NGC picked up the show: “By combining the access and reputation of National Geographic with Hollywood’s brightest minds and journalism’s heaviest hitters, we plan to create even greater impact with the new season and awaken all of us to the reality of our global situation.”
Being on National Geographic Channel means “Years” will be available in almost 90 million U.S. homes (four times the reach of Showtime) and in over 440 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages worldwide. James Cameron and Schwarzenegger are once again executive producers, along with co-creators (and former “60 Minutes” producers) Joel Bach and David Gelber who together have 13 Emmys.
As for Fox, it bears repeating that the Murdoch empire was split in 2013, and the part that owns NGC is 21st-Century Fox, which, as of last August, is run by Rupert’s son, James. James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn are sustainability advocates. As the New York Times reported last week, Kathryn “is a trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund and a former director at the Clinton Climate Initiative.”
Personally, I have been extremely impressed with the fact-checking team at NGC, which is far more informed and engaged than any fact checkers I have ever worked with (TV or print). Indeed, I believe Season 2 of “Years of Living Dangerously” is actually better than Season 1 — even though Season 1 won the 2014 Emmy for outstanding non-fiction TV series, and Daily Kos called it “the most important television series ever.” The Guardian named it “the most important climate change multimedia communication endeavor in history.” Schwarzenegger has said, “This season, I hope to make an even more powerful statement that will inspire people to lead and demand change to make our world a better place for future generations.”