Discovery Channel to air all 7 episodes of 'Frozen Planet' series
Discovery Channel extricated itself from a political ice storm by announcing it would air all seven episodes of "Frozen Planet," a wildlife and natural history series co-produced with the BBC.
The program -- which explores life in the earth's polar regions and the environmental effects of rising temperatures -- will premiere March 18 and air on subsequent Sundays, Discovery said Tuesday.
Four years in the making, the series was produced by the same documentary team behind the channel's critically acclaimed series "Planet Earth." Discovery said the U.S. version of "Frozen Planet" will be narrated by actor Alec Baldwin.
"Frozen Planet" is currently running on the BBC in Britain and generating huge ratings.
Controversy erupted last month when reports surfaced that Discovery was considering ditching the seventh episode of the series, which delves into the thorny issues of global warming. That episode, "Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice," includes on-camera shots of British naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who narrates the British version, discussing what shrinking glaciers and rising temperatures mean for people and wildlife that live in the region as well as the rest of the planet.
Activists launched an online petition urging Discovery Channel to run the entire series, including "On Thin Ice." The channel is owned by Maryland-based Discovery Communications.
The ruckus surprised Discovery executives, who had not screened all of the episodes until last week.
"Up until today we had not made any programming or scheduling decisions, and today we made our announcement," said Katherine Nelson, Discovery Channel spokeswoman.
-- Meg James
Photo: Polar bears in the Discovery Channel series "Planet Earth." Credit: Terry Andrewartha / Discovery Channel and BBC