Ted Koppel Makes Low-Key Cable Debut at Discovery

Now that he's no longer anchoring "Nightline," Ted Koppel says he doesn't usually stay up late to watch it.

"My whole schedule has changed," he told The Associated Press on Monday. "Now I get up at 6:30 in the morning, which wasn't something I used to do."

For those who have missed their regular Koppel fix since he signed off from ABC News on Nov. 23, he'll be host of a one-hour special interviewing Nobel-prize winners on the Discovery Times Channel, July 17, 10 p.m. EDT. It's the first thing to come on the air out of his new deal with Discovery.

Koppel continued to decline opportunities to publicly judge how ABC has changed "Nightline" since he left, except to say he saw Terry Moran's "first-rate" series of reports from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Koppel is also heading to the site of the American prison for terror suspects to report a segment on his first full-fledged Discovery special, about the post-Sept. 11 tensions between the need for security and the protection of civil rights.

His Discovery Times special, "Petra — A Quest for Hope," is an outgrowth of Koppel's participation in last month's conference in Jordan that drew together Nobel laureates to talk about world problems. Koppel said he had been invited by one of the organizers, Elie Wiesel, to moderate a seminar.

Upset about the lack of attention the conference received — Koppel dryly notes in his introduction how many more people cared about the "American Idol" finale — he said he asked Discovery executives whether he could put together some sort of show.

"You couldn't imagine a nicer, more dedicated group of people, and you can't imagine issues that deserve more attention," he said of the conference participants. "They're just not getting any."

Most of the program is a discussion between Koppel, the Dalai Lama, Irish peace activist Betty Williams, literature award winner Wole Solinka and Columbia University medical researcher Eric Kandel.

"I couldn't help but be moved by their decency, their sincerity," Koppel said. "In the final analysis, what's going to change human behavior if not some people setting an extraordinary example?"

Discovery Times is available in about 40 million of the nation's 110 million television homes.