France Televisions’ new organizational strategy was just revealed, whereby all of France Televisions Group’s channels and subsidiaries were merged into one, although the channels keep their own separate identities. Caroline Behar [pictured], France 5′s head of acquisitions and coproductions details some of the changes in acquisition strategy and also doles out some advice.
What is France 5′s acquisition strategy?
We’re working now for the [France Televisions] group so I can answer for that. Before it used to be discovery on a large sense – we had 200 hours of wildlife, mostly blue chip programs, a lot of archeology and science technology. Those programs targeted a family audience and were quite spectacular.
Now what we’re trying to do is to create brands. For example we’ve been working on programs like Big, Bigger, Biggest and MegaStructures to create a brand; there’s another brand called L’Or Sauvage – that’s wildlife. We really try to find programs that can give people a large view of the world, in the Culture of the World slots.
We like when there’s really high production value, like a lot of CGI. It’s mainly a strategy of having the best productions on the market in order to target the family audience.
This year we acquired more than 400 hours.
What would be your advice on how to get programs acquired by France Televisions?
The main problem we’re facing is presenters. There are more and more presenters everywhere so we try to avoid that but it’s getting more complicated because there’s not a lot of productions without a presenter. My advice would be to think right at the beginning of the production to create a presenter-less production.
The second thing is more programs are 43 minutes and our slot is 50 so that’s also problematic. A program with all talking heads would also be a problem.
What are the main challenges in reorganizing France Televisions?
It’s really positive but it’s also really challenging.
The international market has become incredibly complex, for two reasons. There are less productions than there used to be and the windowing system is pretty complex, with our competitors’ channels. We face a challenge of trying to be able to provide all the slots we need and at the same time trying to find programs. For example, at the History Congress I looked at 102 Minutes that Changed America, which was a shock for me with no narration, no nothing. We’ve been working for two months to create a specific [French] dubbing and we aired the program on France 3 and it did very well. The challenge is to find programs like that, a ‘golden ticket’; to find the best programs for the group at the international level [and] create a surprise.