The future of reality shows is safe: it’s cheap, it fill the program and attracts an audience

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Sitcoms are TV’s greatest hits. Sitcoms such as Plodovi zemlje, Big Brother and Pinkove Zvijezde, agreed all four of the “TV’s Greatest Hits” panel discussion participants. Since the participants never agreed on the greatest hit, the heads of the three commercial and one public television also had differences regarding reality shows and its content regulation.

For HRT’s Marija Nemčić, Plodovi zemlje is the biggest hit, because the show has been on air for 50 years on a constant timeslot, the format has not changed and it is still one of the top 10 most watched shows on Sundays in the region. When it comes to reality shows, she agreed that it is a privilege to work in public service, therefore she would not even dream of producing Big Brother, but it is also a huge commitment. Even though The Voice is not one of those obligations Marija Nemčić considers that the orientation to produce the most successful formats is in unison with the public interest. “The Voice itself is not commercial, it is a show in which no one has looked stupid, therefore it has no reasons to succeed, according to the parameters used today for similar formats”, stated Marija Nemčić, who would be glad if RTL produced more demanding drama programs, and not just soap-operas.

Henning Tewes, RTL’s Executive Officer agrees that his network should increase its drama production and be more ambitious in the creative department. He also notes, however, that there is an opposing trend in which Croatian commercial networks tend to invest into the drama and informative programs and take over the role of public networks, while the public networks are becoming more like commercial ones. He has also stated that RTL planned on obtaining the licence for The Voice, but Marija Nemčić was quicker, to which Nemčić replied that RTL would never be able to produce the show on HRT’s level. “We would never have bought the licence if we could not produce it, so Marija can be content now”, replied Henning who, expectedly, perceive Big Brother, but also formats such as Idols, to be the greatest TV hits of all time.

For Manja Grčić, from Antenna Grupa, the greates TV hits are sitcoms such as Friends and Seinfeld, but she considers the era of big TV hits to be over, because most of today’s formats are short-term. “The luxury of public service is that it produces the most demanding content, while commercial networks in small markets such as this one don’t usually produce such formats because it just doesn’t pay off, and also it is too much work for a team of 100 people”, says Manja Grčić.

Pink television picked the middle ground, whose Vice President Ivan Vlatković says that they have had really bad experiences with licenced shows, because they are very expensive, and they were not allowed to adapt the content for the local market. “The fight with public networks is highly unjust. In Serbia, commercial networks earn 20-25 million euros all together, while public networks do the same thing with 80-100 millions”, stated Vlatković. Due to that fact and negative experience with licenced shows, they have decided to produce adapted formats, such as Pinkove Zvijezde and Zvjezdice, which Vlatković considers o be their greatest hits, due to their 40 percent share on Pink’s market. They are also trying to sell the adapted formats, which is why they are currently negotiating with RTL and looking for buyers in countries such as Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The content regulation in timeslots in Croatia and Serbia is very different, which proved to be very controversial in some reality shows. In Serbia, the regulations are much more lenient, while in Croatia the market regulation is more stern, which Henning Tewes considers to be a good thing, despite recent negative experience with Big Brother. “It is better to have strict rules, than no rules at all”, stated Tewes.

Manja Grčić agrees with the fact that Serbia is much more liberal in terms of regulations, which is why she considers Parovi should not be broadcasted in the same timeslot anywhere in Europe. But, the future of reality shows is secure, because it is cheap, it fill up 10-12 hours per day with content and it attracts viewers.

However, this can be double-edged sword, warned Ivan Vlatković, citing the example of Farma which was shown on Pink for over 10 hours per day. even though it attracted a lot of viewers, some viewers stopped watching Pink altogether, and after Farma was over, it was impossible to get them back.