When 21st Century Fox bought control of National Geographic in early September, turning the magazine into a for-profit venture for the first time in its 127-year history, there was widespread concern from many who felt that the new owner, Rupert Murdoch, might interfere with the organization's environmental mission.
Concerned fans of NatGeo can breathe a sigh of relief, however, if The Atlantic's interview with the producers of climate change documentary series Years of Living Dangerously is any sign of things to come. Interviewer Robinson Meyer expressed similar concern about the fate of the National Geographic channel under Murdoch.
"Years is switching from Showtime, where it originally aired, to the National Geographic channel. NatGeo has many more viewers than Showtime — a larger audience! — but it's also owned by Fox, which itself is owned by the climate-change denier Rupert Murdoch," Meyer wrote. But when Meyer asked Years' executive producer, David Gelber, about the future of the doc, it was a different story:
Robinson Meyer: I saw the new season is coming out on National Geographic. Was that before the Murdoch purchase was announced?
David Gelber: Oh yeah, it's been in the works for about a year.
Meyer: Have you heard anything about the new ownership?
Gelber: Well, you know, Fox has owned NatGeo for a while. It's owned the channel for a while. I think the most recent deal has to do with other National Geographic properties. But we were really impressed with what NatGeo did last year, and Fox did run it as well, with Cosmos, the Neil deGrasse Tyson show. Which did a whole hour on climate change, and it was a terrific hour. So we're not particularly concerned about editorial interference. I think we're feeling very comfortable with being on a platform that's so much bigger than the one we were on last time. [The Atlantic]
Here's hoping that despite a new owner, we'll still get the same NatGeo we know and love.