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Notes from the Reel World: The Board President's Column, June 2002

By Michael Donaldson

Dear IDA Members;

When we last left off, we reported on the fact that Discovery Communications planned to eliminate artistic credits on broadcasts of newly commissioned documentaries, except for a five-second card at the end of the program; the credits would be listed on a Discovery website instead. Well, I am happy to report that Discovery has listened to the concerns of the documentary community. As we were going to press last month, Discovery announced that it would give producers two alternatives—end-credits as they currently exist, or a new credit plan, consisting of front-end credits, production company logo for five seconds, complete credits on the Discovery website for six months, and “special thanks” cards for five seconds.

The fact that Discovery responded to our concerns so quickly is a positive step in what we hope will be a productive dialogue with the company over the next several months, during which we plan to take a serious look at the twin problems of credit clutter and credit crunch. Credit crunch is my generic term for the speeding up, squeezing to one side and various other maneuvers used with respect to credits to increase the time for station promos and advertising by television cable and broadcast companies.

A little background: The IDA organized a meeting in April at the West Coast Kodak headquarters, on very short notice. Virtually every union showed up, as well as many leading producers and heads of related organizations. The Documentary Credits Coalition, the group that was formed out of this meeting, agreed that most action would be taken by various organizations, rather than by the coalition itself. Following the first meeting, IDA crafted a resolution, as did our respective colleagues, and we issued a press release to the media.

Your IDA wanted to hear what everyone thought about Discovery's plan. The members that have reported in on this issue so far have unanimously expressed their concern with the direction of credits in general and the proposed policy of Discovery Communications in particular. The appreciation expressed by the membership has been heartwarming. If you haven't expressed yourself on this issue, please e-mail

The Coalition does have questions and points of clarification about Discovery’s latest position; we will continue to meet, and a steering committee, made up of one representative from each organization and guild, has been charged with crafting a policy statement.

While all this commotion is going on around the credit issue, we don't want you to forget to submit your films for the IDA awards to be held in December. The final deadline is June 30. The Gala and Awards show were hugely successful last year, and this year should be a repeat.



Michael C. Donaldson
IDA President