MIPTV 2012: France 5 execs seek 90-minute specials

As MIPDoc kicks off in Cannes, France 5 acquisitions execs Perrine Poubeau (pictured left) and Thierry Mino (right) talk to realscreen about what the network is looking for at the market, with "family targeted 90-minute specials" high on the agenda.
March 30, 2012

As MIPDoc kicks off in Cannes, France Televisions’ Thierry Mino (pictured right), deputy head of documentaries, acquisitions and international coproductions; and Perrine Poubeau (left), commissioning editor of acquisitions and international coproductions, talk to realscreen about what France 5 is looking for at the market.

Poubeau noted that with the television space in France becoming increasingly competitive, factual entertainment and observational documentaries are proving to be popular at the moment.

“The situation for France Televisions and France 5 is that on the factual side, we are more challenged in a way,” she said. “But we hold a very important place for documentaries, particularly on France 5, because 5 devotes half of the schedule to them. This is a love affair that has gone on for a very long time.”

She adds that the network has very strong relationships with producers, distributors and other broadcaster partners, including the BBC, NHK, ZDF, National Geographic and AETN, although it is also proactive and open to newcomers and new partners.

France 5′s international coproductions number in the sixties each year, while the network acquires almost 600 programs per year. On balance, 52% of acquisitions come from abroad, while 48% come via French distribution companies.

Mino, meanwhile, states that more than 70% of France 5′s acquisitions are in the discovery, travel and wildlife space. For wildlife, France 5 tends to acquire, although it pre-bought and coproduced Blink Production’s Meet the Sloths, because of its “very light and funny tone.” Poubeau adds that it is a portrait of a modern Noah’s Ark for sloths.

For France 5′s specific needs at the moment, Poubeau said: “France 5 has very strong viewers; it’s really family oriented and when we think about programs that work really well for us, they’re popular with a high visual impact and a very entertaining approach. We also look for programs with a new angle, unique access or revelation, and whenever it’s relevant we look for programs with a light or humorous tone.”

Because France 5 is a French public channel, acquisitions and international coproduction must complement domestic French productions, so at MIPTV the acquisitions team will be looking at genres such as wildlife, discovery, science, technology, the environment, ancient civilization and major historical events, all of which must be very accessible and entertaining.

In terms of formats, it seeks hour and half-hour programs, which can be one-off or series, and big event 90-minute specials.

“A serious lack we have at the moment is family targeted 90-minute specials,” Poubeau says. “They can be in archaeology, wildlife, discovery, science, and we also look for 26- and 52-minute discovery series.”

The acquisitions team is also looking for documentaries that mark anniversaries of major upcoming events, from the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Lady Diana, to the assassination of JFK.

Mino and Poubeau stress that Frances 5′s acquisition team works for the whole group. Once the team spots programs at markets, they send them over to colleagues at France 2, 3, 4 and O, who have the final decision on what to acquire.

At MIPTV, the team will be looking for family oriented and blue chip wildlife for France 2; history programs on major French events for France 3; fact ent and docu soaps for France 4; and discovery and investigation titles for France O.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.