EVEREST JUMP LIVE Cancelled by Discovery in Wake of Avalanche Tragedy
After a major tragedy, Discovery Channel has chosen not to move forward with its planned live jump from the world's highest mountain. The news of a cancellation might not be good for ratings, but it is more than appropriate in the regards to dealing with the lives of those who were unfortunately lost in an avalanche atop Mt. Everest.
In an era where media tend to exploit subjects for viewership - the recent nonstop coverage of lost flight 370 come to mind - Discovery Channel has acted with grace by dropping the battle for ratings when tragedy strikes. In a statement released by Discovery, per The Hollywood Reporter, "In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mt. Everest and respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community."
Sherpas are the native guides who assist climbers on their way up the mountain. They are trained climbers themselves who make a living going up and down the mountain to make sure it is safe for the climbers who have paid for the privilege. This is not the first time tragedy has struck on the mountain, nor will it be the last.
The decision to cancel the program is the right thing to do, undoubtedly. But there was so much press and coverage that was about to happen surrounding the jump, it isn't hard to determine that the station will take the cancellation at loss. In fact there were supposed to be five nights of live programs from Everest titled EVEREST: LIVE FROM BASE CAMP beginning at 11 PM ET/PT on Monday, May 5 and simulcast on Science Channel and Discovery en Español.
The late night shows would have taken viewers behind-the-scenes of the most challenging and complicated live broadcast ever attempted. Outside of the United States, EVEREST: LIVE FROM BASE CAMP would have broadcasted live to select countries including India, Latin America and the United Kingdom beginning May 5 at 11 PM ET/4 AM GMT (May 6). The two-hour special event program, EVEREST JUMP LIVE, was going to air in every pay-TV market across Asia-Pacific, Central/Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Latin America, Nordics and Western Europe on Sunday, May 11.
The jump would have been performed by Joby Ogwyn, an athlete with 20 years of mountaineering and 8 years of wing suit flying experience. He first summited the world's highest peak at just 24-years-old, becoming the youngest American to make it to the top. In 2008, he set the WORLD record for the fastest ascent of Mt. Everest, climbing from the base of the south side route to the summit in just nine and a half hours (it typically takes 3-4 days).
Perhaps in a few years when the accident is not so fresh, Discovery and Ogwyn can make the attempt again. But for now, the decision not to move forward is a moral one modern media outlets should look towards as an example of how to really deal with tragedy and the respect given when human life is lost.