French-German broadcaster ARTE GEIE is reorganizing its theme nights starting in January 2004, boosting its reliance on unscripted reality programming and reducing its slots for long-form docs.
According to programming director Victor Rocaries, the channel is increasing the number of unscripted ‘docu-soaps’ in its schedule to 30 from 10 to help boost ratings.
‘They provide the reality of a subject, but in a more dynamic way than documentaries,’ Rocaries explains. ‘It is an observational format that has a rhythm more closely aligned to fiction than documentaries,’ he adds.
But, Rocaries will draw the line at competitive reality formats like Survivor. For example, one show in development revolves around the life of a team of firefighters. ‘But, it is firefighters in their station, not firefighters in the desert,’ he points out.
The unscripted programs will run weekdays at 8:15 P.M. in a 26-minute slot.
The on-screen change is mirrored by an internal reorganization that saw three new factual departments established last month: current affairs, culture and arts, and natural history and science. The current affairs unit is headed by Sylvie Jezequel, who programs Tuesday’s 120-minute thematic night; the culture and arts team is headed by Dana Hastier who prepares Friday’s 120-minute schedule; and the natural history and science group will be managed by Hélène Coldefy (who has been hired away from France 3). She is in charge of the 240-minute Sunday-night theme.