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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Green TV, 24 Hours a Day

Air Date: Week of

Maria Menounos covers green celebrities as host of the Planet Green series “Hollywood Green.” (Courtesy of Discovery Communications)

Twenty-four hours of environmental programming. That's what's on tap for the new television network Planet Green. Eileen O'Neil is president of Planet Green. She tells host Bruce Gellerman the channel is eco-tainment for the eco-household.


GELLERMAN: Television has been broadcasting in color for nearly 50 years, but only now has it gone green. Debuting on cable TV is Planet Green, featuring all things green, all the time – from beauty products to pop stars.

LEE: I’m Tommy Lee, what’s up?

LUDACRIS: What’s the deal? You got Ludacris right here and I already know what everybody’s thinking. They’re thinking, what do rappers and rockers have in common. You know?

LEE: Life in the fast lane, dude.

LUDACRIS: Living in the fast lane?

LEE: Yeah.

LUDACRIS: That might be true, but I’m gonna tell you we gotta slow our role to make sure that we secure our futures.

LEE: We’re trying to do our part. Now you can join us by recycling today.

LUDACRIS: One bottle, or can at a time, can really make a difference.

LEE: And when you’re kicking back at home, check out Discovery’s new network, it’s called--

LUDACRIS: Planet Green. Starting on Wednesday June, 4. And make sure you look for us trying to out laugh each other on Battle Ground Earth.

GELLERMAN: Well, 50 million U.S. households will be able to do just that. Planet Green president and General Manager Eileen O’Neil promises the cable channel will provide 24-7 eco-tainment programming for an eco-lifestyle.

The series Greensburg will document the green reconstruction of a Kansas community destroyed by a tornado. (Courtesy of Discovery Communiations)

O’NEIL: Oh, you know, there's a lot to be done. You know, what we think about in terms of green - is life only greener? So that, from a television perspective gives us a huge range of genres. So, in staying with some core ones, like the home and food and auto and science and kind of lifestyle areas like fashion, there's quite the range. So viewers when they tune in will see 250 plus new hours starting in June and additional hours being added throughout the rest of the year. Um, it will be on an eight hour repeat cycle, you know, really want people to understand what this eco-tainment approach is, um, from a big content perspective.

GELLERMAN: So eco-tainment. Eco-lifestyle.

O’NEIL: Yes.

GELLERMAN: Do you have any fears that you might be watering down the whole notion of green?

O’NEIL: You know, we really wanted to take what is, you know, the substance and the core science and research that, you know, has finally really come to the mainstream, and put it in a context and a filter that would engage even more people. You know, it felt like we needed to give something that was entertaining, because that's what television is so good at delivering, and also really personally relevant. We wanted to really bring that entertainment into our households, and how it relates to the individual and what we can all do in changing our lifestyles in various ways, cause, you know, we're all in a different stage of the green spectrum, and we just want to keep pushing people further along the spectrum.

GELLERMAN: I went online and took a peek and a preview of what's coming up, and I noticed that you have a lot of partnerships, but some of your underwriters, I don't think of them as being very green companies - I'm thinking of General Motors, you have Caterpillar.

Emeril Lagasse’s new series Emeril Green will debut on Planet Green in July. In the show Emeril will help people make eco-friendly choices about food. (Courtesy of Discovery Communications)

O’NEIL: Yeah, we have partnerships on both the non-profit and the profit side, and some of the advertisers that you mentioned, you know, are definitely examples of who we think our content's for and who our advertiser are, and that is, you know, organizations or corporations or individuals that want to be better, have started in some way, and have the intention to be greener. So we're not sending a message that the network's perfect or our advertisers are perfect or your audience has to be perfect. You know, General Motors absolutely, you know, steps forwards and steps backwards, but we are really working with a number of mainstream advertisers that have made commitments to different degrees, and we're happy to, you know, start bringing their message of green to the marketplace.

GELLERMAN: But could it be green by association? I'm thinking of a company that might want to appear green, and so they associate with you, but they're not really green.

O’NEIL: Yeah, we take our relationship with advertisers very seriously, and we have very thoughtful conversations with each of our advertisers to understand, you know, what their commitment is and what their goals are and how they can match up with ours as well, and, um, really try to come up with a message that makes sense and is authentic as possible.

Maria Menounos covers green celebrities as host of the Planet Green series “Hollywood Green.” (Courtesy of Discovery Communications)

GELLERMAN: One of the substantial news pieces that you have on, or new shows, is called Greensburg. It's about a town in Kansas that was destroyed by a tornado back last May.

[Music and sound from promo video: Man: "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the first model green community in the world"... Woman: "Greenburg's rebuilding, I think will be ok"... Man: "Welcome to Greensburg. Please join us as we build a green American dream."]

O’NEIL: Yes, I'm very proud of that series. We met with the town shortly after their devastating tragedy last year, where I think nine persons were lost, and then 95 percent of the physical property in the town was destroyed. And we met with the townsfolk in early June and had the privilege to really chronicle their rebuilding process, that they had focused themselves on rebuilding green.

One of the things that they had said to me when we first met that really struck me is, you know, they're middle America, and they felt that this was an opportunity to be a role model for, um, the U.S. in the way that there's a perception that green has a particularly strong interest or focus on our coasts, and that it's something that middle America doesn't really, you know, pay attention to or appreciate. And they really have seen themselves as a role model, and it's been a great experience with them to see the green movement through their eyes.

GELLERMAN: Ms. O’Neil, do you have a favorite program coming up?

O’NEIL: (laughs) That's not a fair question. I love all my babies. And, you know what's so hard is, the line up is very diverse. We want something there for everyone, and we've not really defined our audience by a sharp demographic, but more psychographics. So I'm looking at certainly different genders, but different age groups and life stages, so I'm looking forward to them finally reaching air, whether it's in June with the shows like Greensburg, to July when Bob Woodruff's series from ABC News launches and Emeril Lagasse’s Whole Foods series, and then kind of a monster of an entertainment series, the Battleground Earth with Ludacris and Tommy Lee in August. So, um, I love them all (laughs), and I hope a lot of other people will too.

GELLERMAN: Well, Ms. O'Neil, congratulations, and best of luck!

O’NEIL: Thank you very much.

GELLERMAN: Eileen O'Neil is the president and general manager of Planet Green.

[MUSIC: Vibraphonic “I See You” from ‘Acid Jazz Rarities’ (Acid Jazz Records –2004)]



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