Channel: Channel 8, The Documentary Channel (Tel Aviv, Israel)
Viewer: Skewed slightly male (53%), average age 35, 90% Hebrew speaking, middle income
Primetime Audience: Peaks at roughly 40,000 households (7 P.M. to 11 P.M.)
Reach: Roughly one million households across Israel
On-air hours: 22 hours a day
Who: Sinai Abt, head of Channel 8
Given its curious, open-minded viewers, Channel 8 ‘doesn’t shy away from political or controversial issues,’ says Abt. ‘On the contrary, we are known for that. We try to portray the complexity and diversity of the Israeli existence – it could be the political or internal conflict.’
Offered as part of Israel’s basic cable package, Channel 8 airs two types of doc programming: acquisitions (which make up about 85% of the programs) and original productions (which account for the other roughly 15%). For acquisitions, head of Channel 8 Sinai Abt is looking for culture, science and history shows, as well as high-quality feature docs with a personal point of view for the new strand ‘The Award Winners.’
Two new Channel 8 productions Abt is especially proud of are Belly Dancers and Just Married, both of which clock in at 52 minutes. Dancers, now at the pre-sale stage, unearths the culture and history of this hypnotizing dance in Israel and the Middle East, while Married, set to launch in July, features the love story of husbands and wives who are banned from living together because of a new law and the separation wall.
Abt adds that Channel 8 is also now offering to distribute the programming of those who produce with them both to the Israeli and international markets.
Don’t Need it
The days when Channel 8 would air nature and cooking shows are done like dinner. And since he already has several projects about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in production, Abt says he is selective about docs he will broadcast that tackle the topic. ‘I won’t say we’re not interested, but we’re very picky about what we do because we have covered it extensively in the last three years,’ he explains. Yoav Shamir’s highly praised Checkpoint is one such conflict-themed doc that the channel recently coproduced and aired.
What’s On Now
One of Channel 8′s well-received original productions is Bulldog, a 22 x 50-minute series produced by Tel Aviv-based 2Shot. A look at ecological problems in Israel, the show has its ‘docuactivist’ host search for the people responsible for different environmental evils, going as far as interrogating suspected pollution perpetrators outside of their own offices.
Another popular show is The Self-Appointed Patient, a 7 x 50-minute series that has host Arik Kneler shadow people struggling with varied health issues. Now on its second run, the show reveals how the patients’ lives are effected by their condition – whether it be anxiety or obesity – and also features the advice of experts.