Saturday, October 18, 2014

TV Empire Building

I'm not a big enthusiast of German state-run TV.....which I should say early on in this blog.  When you stir in the TV-tax, the massive empire beyond Channel One and Two, the marginal appeal of what they offer, and the occasional infighting between the governing board and the leadership of the public's a joke.

This week, Channel One/Two (ARD/ZDF) came to announce that their new joint project of creating a public network designed for the youth (14 to 29 years old).  The original goal was a full-up network, broadcasting across the satellite, and via the internet.  This goal was basically stopped via the state ministers who saw a large and costly network device with no significant payback. The internet project was accepted as the only solution.

The internet media project is set to start with forty-five million Euro.  Where it comes from?  ZDF and ARD have to give up funding to cover this.  Somewhere in this get the feeling that another TV tax hike will be necessary within three years, or some type of advertising will have to be hyped up to cover bills.

Why the necessity of the new network for youths?  This is a fascinating topic.  NEO, a minor state-run TV network under ARD/ZDF was supposed to provide the programming and aim toward this age group.  I've watched NEO on occasion.  Based on numbers, NEO is marginally surviving with viewers currently.  There was a point three years ago where NEO was producing roughly 50,000 viewers a day....out of eighty million Germans.  No one appreciated what they offered, and there is just not much sentiment for the younger Germans to drift over to state-run TV programming of any type.  So, they've decided that NEO isn't the solution.....thus creating this newer project.

There are several interesting facts.  First, German teens are drifting over to internet programming and it's indicating that in the decade or two to come.....they won't be using satellite TV very much, or using Channel One or Two.  Second, German teens don't care for the programming style of the national TV managers....preferring action adventure shows, Marvel-type programming, American comedies, and individual tastes.  Third, Channel One and Two try to be all things for all people.....which ends up with prime-time TV shows which appeal to one age group but not another.  Fourth, German kids aren't buying into news pieces or documentary-style programming.  Fifth, the Channel One and Two folks generally hate reality TV....considering it beneath them and their values....which goes totally opposite to German teens.

Here's the deal.....if the state-run TV managers can't find a way to attract the teens....they will be getting up into their thirties and forties eventually, and start to question why even having an entire national state-run TV situation, or the TV tax.  Within twenty years, I could see the public demanding a fifty-percent cut in the tax, and forcing the network to par down their large empire (two major network operations, and almost twenty smaller state or regional operations).

What does forty-five million Euro a year buy?  By the time you figure fifty-odd technicians, planners, and documentary developers.....twenty percent of the money is gone.  Toss in some conferences, equipment purchases, graphics IT technology, and travel for projects.....there's another twenty percent of the money gone.  What does the remaining thirty-odd million buy in terms of shows?   That would be curious to know. Maybe it's loaded with six hours a day of music video, and five hours of just interviews on the street.  I'm guessing the limited funding left will kill off any creative abilities.

Somehow, the state-run TV managers must find a way to attract the younger viewers, get them to see that a good product can be developed and appreciated, and then shape them into accepting a fruitful relationship.  The odds here?  Zero.  The state-TV folks will cringe when the youths say they want zombie shows, science fiction, and more thrilling shows.  That's not the culture that they want to deliver and promote via a thriving society.

So, sit back and watch.....forty-five million Euro....yearly....sinking quickly.

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