Realscreen Q&A: Nicolas Deschamps, ARTE France

Realscreen spoke with Nicolas Deschamps, head of acquisitions at ARTE France, about his department's restructure.
September 8, 2008

What is your title now at ARTE France?
In spring of this year I left the specialist factual department in ARTE France and took the title of head of the newly formed acquisitions department.

How and why was the acquisitions department restructured?
Half German, half French, ARTE is a broadcaster that can view the world through the eyes of others. Inspired by my experience as a distributor for an international group, I always dreamed of this opportunity to create a department entirely dedicated to share this incredible richness of the market – a richness beyond the straight economic dimension (even though that remains important.) All our work is dedicated to facilitating the access of the best programs on ARTE’s schedule and to developing the networks between producers, distributors and broadcasters. We cover all genres, from fiction to documentary, from music to kids programs, from formats to shorts.

More than a simple restructuring of the department, it was a real birth. ARTE is a very complex structure. We are aware that it can be really difficult for distributors to find the right access for their programs, and that is a harmful situation. We wanted to simplify the access to open new possibilities, new markets and create an intake that will allow us to build ambitious programming.

What are ARTE France’s doc slots at this point in time?
ARTE France’s acquisitions department is in charge of making purchases regardless of type – except for film – to reinforce the daytime schedule.

Owing to its presence on the markets, the department is able to keep a watchful eye out for purchases by program units, which, moreover, continue to look for and negotiate programs for their own slots.

The slots we are responsible for are about to change in the new 2009 schedule, so I would recommend browsing the ARTEPRO website in the next few weeks to get the latest update.

Here are two doc slots we are directly providing:

‘Faraway Places’ (Monday through Friday, 2 to 6 p.m.) This slot takes the viewer to remote regions of the globe. The films consist of encounters and reports on cultural diversity around the world.

‘ARTE Junior’ (Saturday and Sunday, 8 to 10 a.m.) A rendezvous for young people aged 8 to 12, aimed at passing on knowledge along with the values of freedom and tolerance that are essential to the channel.

You’ve spoken before about how the future of TV is the strength of choices, and making sure that ARTE provides strong choices for its viewers. Please expand on this thought.
Two very different kinds of media with opposite strategies are about to merge. They have two different definitions for what we call ‘public.’ While one – TV – puts the community at the center of its system, the other – telco – targets the individual. The power of the Internet and the ‘content big bang’ can be disconcerting. Today everyone can make and broadcast their own creations and more than ever we find production companies in remote areas in the world – a true richness that can be used.

Viewers will always need a pearl diver to avoid sinking into the ocean of images. Developing the market ability allows us at ARTE to build a strong relationship with the viewer, giving them confidence so that they will ask us to be amazed by the quality of what we offer everyday. It’s a real contract.

This link between two worlds makes this job so important in my eyes – it allows us to build a new kind of media with humanity and respect.

On a totally unrelated note, where did you spend your summer vacation this year?
I took a one-month break for a full European tour. The recipe for my holiday cocktail: 10 days of Norway, 10 days of Spain and 10 days of Normandy.

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