Finland’s public service broadcaster, YLE, airs 42% factual programming. Realscreen spoke with popular factual and lifestyle acquisitions executive Katja Solla about her programming style and what the Finnish audience is looking for in non-fiction fare.
What is your mandate when you are looking for factual programs?
To find the best programs the world can offer. Thinking of YLE’s
pubcaster values, our channels’ profiles and the slot requirements. I am buying popular factual and lifestyle series for all four YLE channels (YLE1, YLE2, YLE Teema and YLE FST5). I have three other colleagues buying factual for other genres here at YLE acquisition.
What are some of the main themes you’re finding in the shows and docs you’re programming?
Depending on the sub-genre: Social responsibility. Intelligent armchair traveling. Action and adrenaline, but not as absolute values.
What are Finnish audiences currently looking for when it comes to factual content?
Combining hard facts and the emotional side. Viewers want YLE to
stay on the factual side, compared to the commercial channels who air
reality elimination shows and shock docs.
What are you looking for in terms of coproduction opportunities?
YLE mainly coproduces with Finnish independent producers. Pre-buys are
another thing. Pre-buys are occasionally done for some of the single
documentary slots, mainly directly by the slot producers. By my estimate, less than 10% of what YLE shows are genuine coproductions.
What advice do you have for producers looking to work with your channel?
Choose a theme or subject somehow linked to Finland or its culture.
What are your favorite recent acquisitions or coproductions you’ve programmed for YLE lately?
Secret Millionaire (RDF Rights), Blood, Sweat & T-Shirts (Outright Distribution), Louis Theroux’s documentaries and Dan Cruickshank’s travel series (BBC Worldwide), Globetrekkers (ongoing travel series from Pilot Productions).