Moving away from a magazine style approach to more authored programmes, especially by artists themselves seems to be the way that arts programming is moving at the moment according to a panel of arts commissioners at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Partnerships with arts institutions and co-pros with other channels are also de rigeur.
In a session chaired by Guardian journalist, Liese Spencer, the commissioners outlined what they were looking for, what they viewed as particular successes, their key challenges and what they were most jealous of.
(Photo courtesy of Sheffield Doc/Fest – Jacqui Bellamy)
At Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016, a panel explored looked at how the commissioning of singles, specials and series has changed in recent months. Chair of the panel, Emma Read (Emporium Productions), introduced the session by explaining how there has been many changes in the world of documentaries in the past year with BBC3 going online, Netflix, Vice and Buzzfeed streaming popular documentaries and a ‘changing of the guard’ at the BBC and ITV. She feels that there is much more clear blue water between the channels this year than in the last few years, largely because of this ‘changing of the guard’. Emma asked a panel of commissioning editors how these changes have influenced their commissioning decisions and what programmes they are particularly looking for. (Photo courtesy of Sheffield/Docfest – Jacqui Bellamy)
Go to one of the major international documentary festivals and you’ll come away feeling that the genre is alive, kicking and having a party. ITV’s Jo Clinton-Davis said at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 that the audience was searching for “gems in the schedule”, but of all the commissioner panels, the documentary session seemed to be the one where the commissioners had the most trouble articulating/least enthusiasm describing what it was that they wanted or needed in their schedules; they seemed to be suffering a strange collective ennui.
Ever so often a show comes along that changes the landscape and influences everything that comes in its wake: Big Brother (contributors/contestants/celebrities confined to one location for the duration of a series), Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With the Stars (celebrities pairing with professionals to learn a skill and compete), One Born Every Minute (fixed-rig shows). The latest show to be spreading its DNA far and wide seems to be Gogglebox. At Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2015 a panel of Factual Entertainment Commissioners discussed their current needs.
If you are tasked with developing science programmes you face a number of challenges: the number of channels that actively embrace science is small, and sometimes those channels – in an attempt to attract as broad an audience as possible – can disguise their science content so thoroughly that it ceases to be science in the eyes of actual scientists. This makes for some uncomfortable conversations when trying to research and develop a science series or talent scout potential onscreen experts. Nonetheless there are commissioning opportunities out there for those dedicated and determined enough. A panel of science commissioners at Sheffield Doc/Fest discussed what science programming means to them and what they are looking to to commission in the coming months. Interestingly although many programmes and approaches were mentioned, few of them were recognisable as science.
In order to be successful when pitching to TV commissioners, it’s vital to know what they are looking for. This is harder than it sounds, despite many broadcasters now sharing their commissioning briefs online (via their commissioning portals), because they are often vague and sometimes out of date.
Another way to get a sense of what commissioners want is to attend a panel in which they outline their current needs. These panels are common at TV conferences and festivals around the world. Some commissioners are refreshingly candid, whilst other remain coy and seemingly reluctant to give away their secrets; others appear more interested in scoring political points against their co-panelists than helping the audience of producers understand what they should pitch. So they can be a mixed bag. And so it was with the Arts Commissioning panel at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2015.
All 4 is the new umbrella name for all Channel 4’s platforms, including online, which is the home to the Channel 4 Shorts strand.
At a recent Sheffield Doc/Fest panel, the Head of All 4 and Digital Content, Richard Davidson-Houston, and Shorts Commissioning Editors Jody Smith and Issac Densu explained their remit to commission original digital content and how their audience differs from a mainstream terrestrial audience.
One of the many commissioner panels at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2014 concentrated on arts programming and revealed a new trend among arts commissioners: the desire to see art in action. Most channels seem to be moving away from having a host or experts talking about art towards wanting to see artists actually performing and creating art, removing the barrier between artist and viewer.
American Heroes Channel (AHC) has announced the launch of AHC Films a new outlet for independent non-fiction filmmakers seeking a television home for documentary projects. AHC Films will celebrate a wide range of heroes through uplifting and engaging films dedicated to powerful stories of the men and women who have shaped the world we live […]
Launching summer 2014, A+E Networks’ BIO Channel will be rebranded as FYI, a contemporary lifestyle network reflecting how people actually live their lives today. Jana Bennett, President of FYI and LMN, will oversee the new network. For your inspiration, for your imagination or for your innovation, FYI will be a personalized experience for each viewer. […]
Discovery Networks CEEMEA is launching a new female-skewing channel across Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa in Spring 2014. The channel will focus on content that explores factual mysteries and suspense. Read more: Broadband TV News
National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) has announced the launch of Nat Geo People – a brand new channel that offers unfiltered, intimate access to the true, amazing and inspiring stories of real people all over the world. Exploring the emotional and experiential journeys of fascinating individuals whose everyday lives both astonish and resonate, Nat Geo […]
WealthTV is being rebranded as AWE (A Wealth of Entertainment) from 1st October 2013. Source: Broadcasting & Cable
Pivot (pivot.tv), which launches 1st August 2013, is a new television network from Participant Media serving passionate Millennials (18-34) with a diverse slate of talent and a mix of original series, acquired programming, films and documentaries. Pivot focuses on entertainment that sparks conversation, inspires change and illuminates issues through engaging content, and its website TakePart.com […]
Discovery Networks International will launch TLC in the UK and Ireland on Tuesday 30 April 2013. TLC, already the world’s biggest female entertainment channel, will be exclusively premiering hit shows from the US, alongside a host of original UK series featuring well-known stars. Filled with exciting, new and enjoyable entertainment shows, and featuring remarkable and […]
Beginning April 22, 2013, the G4 network will be rebranded the Esquire Network. The network is a strategic partnership between NBCUniversal and Hearst Magazines to create the only television network aimed at the full, multi-faceted lives of today’s modern men. Owned and operated by NBCUniversal, Esquire Network will be headed up by General Manager Adam […]
UKTV channel Yesterday has launched a new brand proposition with a raft of fresh programmes that will reflect the channel’s brand promise, Entertainment Inspired By History. The strategic shift in Yesterday’s content is aimed at attracting a more diverse audience to the channel by providing programmes that are accessible and entertaining, while keeping history at […]
A new feature documentary strand called Footprints is being launched by Sky Altantic. It will commission or acquire up to twelve documentaries for peak time. The first original commission is The Grim Sleeper, film about a man on trial accused of being a serial killer, directed by Nick Broomfield. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a film […]
E!’s New Look, Logo, Brand Campaign and “Pop of Culture” Tagline Will Debut on the Network and Digital Platforms on July 9th, 2012. The evolution is centered on expanding, elevating and enhancing the global pop culture brand to achieve the network’s mission to inspire and entertain the pop culture fan in all of us. E! […]
Discovery Communications announced that Planet Green will turn red, white, and blue when it is re-named Destination America on Monday, May 28, 2012. Kicking off Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season, Destination America will be the first network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States, emblazoned with […]
El Rey, a new US channel based will launch in 2014. Proposed by legendary Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, this network is designed to be an action-packed, general entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, […]
REVOLT, a new US channel based will launch in 2013. Proposed by superstar and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs and MTV veteran Andy Schuon, this network is designed to have programming inspired by music and pop culture, including music videos, live performances, music news, and interviews and will incorporate social media interaction for music artists and […]
The Nature Conservation Channel is an online TV channel due to launch some time in 2012. It offers wildlife filmmakers and conservation organizations a platform for short(2 – 9 mins) films and live-streaming and content will also be available via mobile devices. The content will be curated by a team of ex-BBC wildlife filmmakers. Read […]
BabyFirst Americas, a new US channel based will launch in April 2012. Proposed by Spanish language television veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz, this network is designed for infants, very young children, and their parents, and emphasizes the importance of early development of verbal, math and motor skills. “BabyFirst Americas aims to bring the essential academic building […]
DNet, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media, and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) have announced a joint venture that will rebrand HDNet/HDNet Canada to launch AXS TV (pronounced: access). Scheduled to debut summer 2012, AXS TV will leverage the global reach and portfolio of content opportunities of its partners to create live entertainment and lifestyle programming. Capitalizing on […]
Current UK has announced today that BSkyB has withdrawn support for the channel and it is likely to stop broadcasting by mid March 2012. In a statement they said: “Obviously the entire team at Current is devastated by this news. However, we’d like to thank you for your support and belief in independent television. We […]
If you couldn’t make it to the Media Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival this year (or time spent in The George impinged on your session going), you can catch up with what all the commissioners and controllers are looking for with this very comprehensive review – including video clips – from Paul D. (follow him […]
With a programming slate that combines the most compelling real-life stories of Discovery Health with the audience-favorite fitness programming of FitTV, Discovery Communications will rebrand its FitTV network to Discovery Fit & Health on February 1, 2011. Discovery Fit & Health will be available in approximately 50 million homes and found at the channel location […]
Bravo Channel closed down on 1st January, 2011. Source: Broadcast
Channel One, formerly Virgin 1 is closing down from 1st February, 2011. Source: Broadcast
Australia’s FOXTEL has announced a brand new channel completely dedicated to home and property – LifeStyle HOME – which will launch on March 1, 2011. A new addition to XYZnetworks’ LifeStyle Channels, LifeStyle HOME will be bring together inspirational and informative ideas for every Australian home – from home makeovers to investments; renovation to relaxing […]
After Sky’s buy out of Living TV, two channels – Bravo UK and Channel One (rebranded on 3rd September 2010, from Virgin1) – have been scrapped. Their top shows will be distributed amongst the Sky channels. Source: Broadcast
Next in our tour around the world, we’re visiting Spain for an at-a-glance guide to their TV channels. (Photo by maesejose CC BY 2.0)
We’ve already taken a brief look at TV channels in Norway, Australia, Canada and The Netherlands. Now it’s time for an at-a-glance guide to the Swedish TV landscape. (Photo By Let Ideas Compete CC BY SA 2.0)
We’ve already taken a brief look at TV channels in Australia, Canada and The Netherlands. Now it’s time for an at-a-glance guide to the Norwegian TV landscape: NRK, TV2 and TVNorge. (Photo by By Dmitry Valberg CC BY 2.0)
Vintage TV is launching on Freesat and Sky on 1st September 2010 in the UK. The channel is aimed at viewers 50+ and will feature programming on music, pop culture, fashion and trends from 1940 through the 1980s. CEO: David Pick Head of Production: Teresa Watts Programme and Music Consultant: Phil Swern Business Development Director: […]
US cable network Investigation Discovery (ID) is launching a new documentary strand for independent documentary in August 2010. The new strand is called ID Films and will transmit documentaries that investigate and explore US crime and punishment. For example: Cropsey – doc that examines the case of five missing children in Staten Island – a […]
Diana Howie, Commissioner Daytime and Factual, ITV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of an event run by Women in Film and Television. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)
BSkyB is shutting UK channel Sky Real Lives in summer 2010 after three years on the air in order to concentrate on Sky1 and Sky2. Source: C21
With the football World Cup in full swing in South Africa and the upcoming (30th June – 1st July) Televisual Intelligent Factual Festival has a new international focus this year, it’s time for us to look abroad to some international broadcasters. This week we’re looking at Australian channels; previously featured were Canada and The Netherlands. Click through to read the at-a-glance channel profiles of ABC, Seven and Nine. (Photo by Linh rOm CC BY 2.0)
The football World Cup has just kicked off in South Africa and the upcoming (30th June – 1st July) Televisual Intelligent Factual Festival has a new international focus this year, so it’s time for us to look abroad to some international broadcasters. This week we’re looking at Canadian channels; also coming up are Australia and The Netherlands. Click through to read the at-a-glance channel guide. (Photo by O Paisson CC BY 2.0)
The football World Cup has just kicked off in South Africa and the upcoming (30th June – 1st July) Televisual Intelligent Factual Festival has a new international focus this year, so it’s time for us to look abroad to some international broadcasters. This week we’re looking at Canadian channels; also coming up are Australia and The Netherlands. Click through to read the at-a-glance channel profiles of CBC, CTV and Global TV. (Photo by Яick Harris CC BY SA 2.0)
Jo Clinton-Davis, Controller Popular Factual, ITV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum (March 2010). Click through to find out what’s working on ITV, what they’re looking for in Factual, and what they’re willing to pay. (Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)
Simon Bohrsmann, General Manager National Geographic UK recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Factual Forum (March 2010). Simon commissions across Nat Geo UK and Nat Geo Wild (natural history). Simon’s view on Nat Geo UK: The audience is male-skewing and older He gets a fair amount of his programming from Nat […]
The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) has cancelled two documentary strands: Wild Docs and The Lens. Visit Realscreen for the full article.
From 1st April 2010, Fox Reality Channel will cease to exist and will become Nat Geo Wild (an offshoot of National Geographic Channel), focusing on original and archive wildlife programmes.
Matthew Littleford, Controller UKTV, recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Entertainment Forum (as of September 2009). Matthew commissions entertainment across several channels at UKTV: Alibi, Gold, Watch and Dave. Matthew’s View on UKTV Gold – transmits classic BBC comedy and programmes that support that comedy. Alibi – Largely co-produced crime programmes; […]
Mark Sammon, Head of Commissioning at Virgin Media TV, recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Entertainment Forum (as of September 2009). Mark commissions programmes for Virgin 1, Bravo and Living. Mark’s View on Living Living is aimed at young women; its competition is ITV2 and BBC3. Celebrities, dating, weddings and makeovers […]
Mark Linsey, Controller of Entertainment Commissioning at the BBC, recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Entertainment Forum (as of September 2009).
Photo by Torres CC BY 2.0
Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0
* Main agenda for the BBC is new talent.
* New talent can be given a platform on BBC3 – when pitching, think about the format that would best suit them.
* There is room on BBC2 for some more established talent.
* Need a chat show to replace Graham Norton’s show.
* Want some bold and ambitious new talent on BBC1
* Strong and distinctive formats.
How to pitch
* Likes to talk about an idea in its earliest stages, before it’s been too formatted.
* Likes regular dialogue with producers.
* When pitching, talk about the ambitious, bold and distinctive top line idea first.
(Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)
Richard Woolfe, Channel Controller at Five, recently outlined his commissioning needs to attendees of the Broadcast Entertainment Forum (as of September 2009).
Photo by Torres CC BY 2.0
Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0
Richard’s View on Five
* Five is looking for ‘fun’.
* Wants entertainment to be the flagship genre for Five.
* Programmes that will make the channel famous – noisy, talked-about programmes that have a life outside of TV eg. in the newspapers or on forums.
* Doesn’t want “me too” shows that feel derivative.
* Talent is important – has just signed up Justin Lee Collins. Generally wants established faces rather than new talent.
* Ideas for viewers aged 16-34 years.
* Big shows that resonate with the nation.
(Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0)