HBBTV UNVEILS JURY FOR HBBTV AWARDS 2022

The HbbTV Association, a global initiative dedicated to providing open standards for advanced interactive TV services through broadcast and broadband networks to connected TV sets and set-top boxes, is pleased to announce that the jury has been appointed for the HbbTV Awards 2022.

The jury members are:

  • Nicole Agudo Berbel, ProSiebenSat.1
  • Robert Briel, Broadband TV News
  • Paul Gray, Omdia
  • Vincent Grivet, HbbTV Association
  • Marc Hankmann, Freelance Journalist
  • Andre Prahl, RTL Deutschland
  • Leslie Shanklin, Discovery
  • Martina Vojtěchovská, MediaGuru.cz

“We are proud about the excellent panel of high-profile industry executives and experts assessing the entries for this year’s HbbTV Awards. The contest provides a unique opportunity to showcase the latest best-in-class examples of applications and services enabled by the HbbTV specifications. I am, as always, very excited to review the Awards entries which give an outstanding and privileged insight into the market dynamics of HbbTV,” said Vincent Grivet, Chair of the HbbTV Association. “I would like to encourage all industry players to submit their entries for the connected TV industry’s most respected award.”

The categories for the HbbTV Awards 2022 are:

  • Best use of HbbTV for advertising-based solutions
  • Best tool or product for HbbTV service development or delivery
  • Best technology innovation in an HbbTV product or service
  • Best interoperability and conformance tool
  • Best marketing or promotion of an HbbTV-based service
  • Best individual contribution to the HbbTV Association
  • Judges’ award “HbbTV newcomer of the year”

The providers of HbbTV applications and services are welcome to submit their entries through this online form; the website also details the terms and conditions of the free competition. A company may enter into as many of the categories as they like. Each submission will require a separate form to be completed. Entries will be judged on their execution, impact and innovation. The closing date for submissions is September 15, 2022. A shortlist of finalists will be put forward to the jury who will select the winners. The finalists will be announced by October 15, 2022.

The HbbTV Awards are held for the fifth time, showcasing and celebrating best practice and excellence in the HbbTV community. The prizes will be awarded at a prestigious ceremony on November 9 as part of the HbbTV Symposium and Awards 2022 in Prague, jointly hosted by the HbbTV Association and the Czech Association of Commercial Television (AKTV). All finalists are invited to attend the awards ceremony.

Contact HbbTV Association:
Angelo Pettazzi
Chair HbbTV Marketing and Education Working Group (MEWG)
email: angelo.pettazzi@kineton.it
Tel: +39.335.7614.596

Press Contact:
Thomas Fuchs
Fuchs Media Consult GmbH
email: tfuchs@fuchsmc.com
Tel: +49 171 4483 168

About the Czech Association of Commercial Television
The Czech Association of Commercial Television (AKTV) was formed in 2017 as an association of terrestrial television broadcasting operators with the goal of defending, supporting and promoting the common interests of commercial broadcasters in the Czech Republic. The founding members of the Association are the Nova, Prima and Óčko television networks. More information: www.aktv.cz

Contact Czech Association of Commercial Television:
Marie Fianová
AKTV Secretary
email marie.fianova@aktv.cz
Tel: +420 724 442 935

PRIMA WANTS TO INCREASE MARKET SHARE WITH AUTUMN SCHEME

New shows in the autumn schedule of TV Prima’s main channel should contribute to a further increase in the Prima Group’s share of the TV market, believes CEO Marek Singer.

Three new prime-time series or a new entertainment show will appear on the Prima Group’s main channel this autumn. Among the new series, there is the Pálava series, which is loosely based on Vinaři, as well as the Hořký svět series, which introduces the environment of a microbrewery, and Dobré zprávy, which is set in a TV background. The licensed entertainment show Můj muž to dokáže will also premiere, in which men perform bizarre tasks and their wives bet on their performance. At the same time, the premiere episodes of ZOO, the most watched show on TV Prima last season, will continue. With the new shows, Prima hopes to at least maintain, but better yet increase, its share of the ratings. In last year’s autumn season (1 September-31 December 2021), the Prima group achieved a share of 26.76% in the 15-69 audience group, up one percentage point year-on-year (source: ATO-Nielsen Admosphere).

Marek Singer, CEO of the Prima group, also notes that all the main TV channels have prepared for the autumn season and that Prima’s broadcasts will not be without a preponderance of original shows. Prima has also started production for its upcoming pay video-on-demand (VOD) platform, which it plans to launch this autumn. It is thus arming itself with production on two fronts. “Investing in original productions today is a ticket to the game and also to the future. Local content is crucial,” he says in an interview.

The autumn scheme of the Prima group’s main channel is generally set in a rather optimistic and positive tonality, which is also underlined by the campaign slogan “Life filled with sunshine” that accompanies the launch of the scheme. Was this the intention?

It is our intention. By nature, we believe that television is primarily a relaxing medium. Although all the emotions it brings are not always positive, in our view they should prevail. Added to this is the fact that the mood in society is not cheerful because of fears about future developments. This makes the audience all the more eager to see something optimistic on the screen.

For example, of the original detective shows that have flooded TV screens in recent years, you don’t have any this autumn…

It’s true, we don’t have any detective shows this fall, but that’s also due to the competition’s programming. If Czech Television and Nova are tuning their Mondays into the detective genre, it doesn’t make sense for us to come up with another detective series. We have the experience from last autumn, when we broadcast a series from a rural environment told with kind humour on Mondays – Hvězdy nad hlavou. It worked well because it was complementary to shows on other stations. Not all viewers are fans of crime dramas, and rather than go with another similar series, it’s better to choose an alternative.

Do you have experience from earlier years that Prima’s audience is more likely to seek out more comedy and family-oriented types of shows, and that you hit your audience more with that focus?

We are convinced of that. We know from various segmentation studies on TV viewers that Prima is perceived as a friendly and family-oriented TV station. This perception does not arise on its own, because it is linked to the expectations that viewers have of us. That is why a dark Nordic-style series will not be so successful on our air, but will be watched on Czech TV because that is where viewers expect it. It has to do with a strategic decision and with positioning how to profile ourselves to the viewer.

“If Czech Television and Nova are tuning Mondays to the detective genre, it makes no sense for us to come up with another detective series.”

You are launching three new series this autumn, are continuing with ZOO and are also launching a new entertainment show. What are your expectations for the fall in terms of ratings?

In general, we expect to be at least as successful as last fall.

So the goal is to achieve a comparable share or ideally higher…

Yes, ideally we would like to get more. It may sound immodest, but we can see that all three major TV stations have prepared for this autumn and the competition is increasing. We’re building on the success of last autumn. We’ve strengthened the schedule from last year, so if we can do comparable to last year or even a little better this year, we’ll be happy.

Any guesses on how your newcomers will do?

That’s a tough one, because you have to factor in what times and against what shows they will be aired. Hořký svět could make it, Pálava builds on what our viewers already know from the series Vinaři, and that’s also an important thing. But I find Monday night very difficult, because it is competitively charged.

And then there’s the new addition for Friday nights, the fun show Můj muž to dokáže. What should we expect from it?

We are very curious to see how this new show will fare. It hasn’t been easy to come up with a strong entertainment format in recent years. We like the concept and the execution, and now it’s a question of whether the audience will like it too. In the German market, which is probably the most similar to the Czech market in terms of audience preferences, the show has worked very well.

Do you have the feeling that it is already difficult to throw in new things in reality shows, which are represented in the evening broadcasts of TV Prima, for example by the tenth series of the Česko Slovensko má talent competition? Is there still room for these shows?

There is still room, because not all of the world’s reality shows have been broadcast here yet. But we have to distinguish what type of reality show we have in mind. Are we talking about daytime shows like Prostřeno! or big evening formats that are broadcast only once a week. We’re constantly evaluating different possible new shows, but it’s not easy because a good format and good casting have to come together. But we will definitely try to try new reality shows because the format is and will be popular.

Over time, the programming schedule of the main channel is increasingly based on Prima’s original shows, which was not the rule a few years ago.

There is no other way. The covid pandemic has accelerated the use of foreign video services among a relatively large part of Czech viewers. We cannot think that we will be successful with mostly foreign acquisitions. That time is gone.

“We cannot think that we will be successful with mostly foreign acquisitions. That time is gone.”

But this has implications for the costs you put into production.

Of course it does. That’s the ticket into the game today and into the future. Local content is the key. For providers like Netflix or HBO Max, the Czech market is too small to develop the kind of local programming here in the volume that local players will bring. Just considering how many hours of premium prime-time programming each of the three main TV stations in the Czech Republic has to produce today in order to make it in the market, this is indeed a significant volume from the perspective of a global operator, given the size of our market.

In the case of the upcoming pay video platform, do you plan to shoot only for VOD or do you foresee a symbiosis with linear TV?

I am convinced that the symbiosis is necessary for purely economic reasons. The way we see it is to offer on VOD what viewers didn’t or couldn’t watch on TV, and to prepare content that was created for VOD. But I don’t think we will keep shows exclusively for VOD forever. In order to make it work economically, content from original productions for VOD will be used elsewhere later.

So you’re already producing shows just for VOD?

We’ve produced them already and they are ready to go in the autumn. We will announce the details when the time is right.

And how many shows will you launch to attract a strong enough following?

It’s very difficult to just give a number, it will be all about showing a diverse range. The second question is how often to renew the shows and offer new ones. We know from our experience in the German market that viewers on pay VOD services mostly watch content that was running on TV and that they didn’t manage to watch, i.e. catch-up. It still accounts for the majority of viewership. Original VOD shows are important, but there are fewer of them. A look beyond our borders shows that broadcasters in the UK or Germany make about ten per cent of their output purely for VOD. And these are markets where the penetration of VOD services is much higher than here. So we see that ratio of VOD to linear production somewhere around 1:10 or 1:15.

“I don’t think we’re going to keep shows exclusively for VOD forever. In order to make it work economically, the content from original creation for VOD will be used elsewhere later on.”

Are there enough creators here in the Czech Republic?

Based on what we have prepared and are preparing, I don’t feel like there aren’t. Of course, it depends on the quality. Producing shows for VOD forces us to experiment and go a bit further, because viewers expect something a bit different from VOD than from linear television.

Is there a proportionality also between the cost you need to produce original content for VOD? I mean, is it a tenth of what you need to produce shows for linear TV?

I can’t say yet, we’re in a different situation because we’re investing in a start-up now. Moreover, VOD is an investment with more distance, because shows are produced even further in advance than for TV. Understandably, we are now seeing the cost of making shows increase.

Will the investment you put into producing VOD content be recouped from advertising and subscriptions?

Our plan is calculated in a way that they should, even with less than one million subscribers. But it’s very dependent on how the content primarily produced for VOD or in time for VOD can be marketed on TV. We expect linear TV to remain strong over the next three to five years. But what happens in the market in the next three years will be really interesting.

Do you think you’re late to market with a pay VOD service? Your competitor Voyo has more than a year’s head start and other foreign players have entered.

I don’t think so, because our competition is neither Netflix nor HBO Max, but Voyo. But if there’s room for two TVs in the market, I don’t see why there shouldn’t be room for two VOD services. We know from surveys and from other countries that viewers choose based on the specific content they want to see. That means they jump between services based on their current offerings. If there was only one VOD service offering all quality local content, viewers would go there. But if there are more than one of those services, they’ll make their choices based on what they want to see. So they don’t have to pay for two or more services at once. An example in the US right now is Game of Thrones. Viewers pay a subscription, watch the show and leave.

Which of the subscription types under consideration – with and without advertising – will be stronger?

It also depends on the economic conditions and the situation in the country. Six months ago, I would have said that people would subscribe more to the more expensive versions without ads, but given the rising prices and the uncertain economic outlook, the cheaper version with ads will probably be more attractive.

One last question, which is not about the autumn broadcast and the preparation of shows for the VOD service, but about the debate on the financing of Czech Television. How would you, as representatives of the commercial sector, position yourself if, in theory, there could be an increase in advertising on Czech Television?

I think that an increase in advertising on Czech Television at a time of an emerging economic crisis is not a solution for Czech Television. There will be less advertising money and the volume that Czech Television needs to raise from the advertising market will not be raised anyway. However, I think it is right that Czech Television should demand the same licence fees from viewers of its online content as it demands from those watching television.

Marek Singer has been CEO of Prima Group since March 2008 – with a break from January 2013 to May 2015, when he was Executive Vice President of MTG for Central and Eastern Europe. He spent the first eight years of his career with Unilever in Europe and in the United States. In 2002, he spent four years as Marketing and then Sales Director at Masterfoods. In the following two years he worked as Sales and Marketing Director at Karlovarská minerální voda with responsibility for the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Source: mediaguru.cz

GROSS INVESTMENT IN ADVERTISING GREW BY 13% IN SEVEN MONTHS

Gross investment in the purchase of advertising space in the media increased by almost 13% in the first seven months of the year.

Gross investment in media ad space increased by almost 13% in the first seven months of the year, according to AdIntel’s monitoring of Nielsen Admopshere. Television advertising remains the strongest in terms of volume, with outdoor advertising posting the highest year-on-year growth so far this year (+27%). However, all monitored media types show double-digit growth.

In July, however, year-on-year increases were lower and in the case of outdoor advertising, investment even fell slightly. Kaufland, Simply You and Lidl were the strongest advertisers in July.

Investment in internet advertising does not appear in the overview of monitored investments, because the internet is represented in the monitoring only by some formats and thus does not cover the complete expenditure in internet advertising.

Again, we would like to point out that the monitored investments do not correspond to the actual investments that flow into the media for buying advertising. However, they do indicate a trend.

Source: mediaguru.cz

NEW CONTENT ON TV NOVA WILL BUILD UP IN 2023

The advertising autumn on TV Nova has been promising so far. The investments the TV group has made in the preparation of the programme should bear fruit not only this autumn, but especially next year, says Jan Vlček, CEO of TV Nova.

Last week, the Nova Television Group presented its autumn scheme, from which it hopes to increase its viewership. It has even greater expectations for 2023, when it will introduce a number of new shows, which are now in production, to its linear broadcasting and to the paid offer of the Voyo video platform. Specifically, dozens of original feature projects, including TV Nova’s first ever period drama with the working title Obchodní dům, the return of Kriminálka Anděl, and the family series Jedna rodina from the pen of Lucie Konečná. CEO Jan Vlček, one of two CEOs of the Nova Group who is also its Chief Commercial Officer, therefore expects 2023 to push the group further in terms of ratings.

He also has optimistic news in his interim outlook for this autumn. In terms of advertiser activity, Nova does not observe that clients are putting the brakes on their plans for TV advertising campaigns under the influence of economic developments. “Most clients are closing larger volumes than last year,” he describes in an interview after the press conference on the autumn scheme.

With the start of the TV autumn just around the corner, it is impossible not to ask how you perceive the advertising market situation and how clients’ interest in advertising in the autumn months is developing. Do you see a caution in the outlook for advertising clients in the wake of economic developments?

We are watching very carefully for any signs of potential caution and in our discussions with clients we are interested in how their business is developing and whether they are planning any adjustments in their communications. So far, however, we are finding that the trend is rather the opposite and most clients are closing larger volumes than last year. So we do not observe any slowdown. It’s not that we don’t see caution as clients are making it clear that they are preparing for various eventualities so that they are ready if their demand is negatively impacted. But so far they have not felt the impact on their business and so far the current economic situation has not had a negative effect on the size of communication budgets, quite the opposite.

Do you have any justification for this?

I think a lot of clients have learnt their lessons during the time of covid. They have got used to living with a certain degree of uncertainty and are able to prepare alternative scenarios and switch to them when they see fit. Thus they do not create for themselves a panic of uncertainty.

ASMEA, the professional grouping of media agencies, estimates that the rate of TV inflation will be between 10-15% this year. Do you have any idea how Nova Group’s TV advertising prices may change for 2023?

We don’t have anything approved yet, but we can all see how prices are evolving. The impact that inflation has on our inputs must be reflected in the price level for next year. We will also see how the demand for TV advertising develops for next year. Of course, if it were higher, it would push the price further up.

“So far, the current economic situation has not had a negative effect on the size of communication budgets, quite the opposite.”

If we go back to the same period a year ago, at the press conference for last autumn you announced your plan to launch a female channel Nova Lady. Did it fulfil what you expected from it in your portfolio of stations?

With the launch of Nova Lady, we achieved the stratification of our channels that we needed from a socio-demographic perspective. Now we are still working on its stronger distribution. But the new channel is so far meeting expectations given the level of current distribution. Alongside the launch of Nova Lady, we have also redesigned the Nova Action and Nova Fun channels. We are also working on Nova Gold. We are continuing to work on these four channels so that they are more complementary and overlap as little as possible. Nova Lady is intended primarily as a channel for working-age women, Nova Fun as a channel for a younger female audience, Nova Action is aimed at men and Nova Gold primarily at middle-aged women.

What exactly do you want to improve about the distribution of Nova Lady?

We want Nova Lady to be distributed like our other free-to-air channels. So we are in talks with operators to include the channel in their offer.

And are you planning to launch another new thematic channel?

We are not working on another free-to-air channel project at the moment.

Do you see the Voyo paid streaming service and its tie-up with linear channels as strategically important now?

Our primary intention is to capitalise on the large amount of content we are producing and developing in the coming year. We’ve currently unveiled our autumn line-up and also announced a number of shows we’re preparing for 2023. It’s in the next year that the major influx of new content will come. That’s a key priority. This autumn will be a strong one, we expect to see an increase in viewership, and we want to move even higher in viewership in 2023.

“This autumn will be a strong one, we expect to see an increase in viewership, and we want to move even higher in viewership in 2023.”

Won’t both platforms be “eating” each others’ viewers?

We clearly see that Voyo and linear TV are not competing, but complementing each other. We see linear TV acting as a driver of new subscribers for Voyo. These are shows that viewers watch on TV and like so much that they want to see them in their own mode. Or, conversely, linear TV acts as a way of promoting formats that can only be watched on Voyo.

The question is whether you will incorporate the shows you plan for Voyo into linear broadcasting…

Our idea is that projects that are exclusive to Voyo will stay on Voyo. We don’t rule out that they won’t be on linear TV in a few years, but we don’t foresee them being on linear TV after, say, one year.

You’ve indicated several times that Voyo has more subscribers than you’ve projected for this time period. What is the current state of play?

We recently disclosed that Voyo has more than 350,000 subscribers. The number is gradually increasing, plus now the autumn season is starting, which is an incentive for new subscribers. We estimate that Voyo is now the number two in the market after Netflix, although we don’t know the exact numbers on Netflix and are basing them on our calculations. Local content is key, and it’s hard for any foreign player to compete with us there.

“We estimate that Voyo is now number two in the market after Netflix.”

And in terms of investment? Is the money invested in building the Voyo platform coming back?

We have set a five-year plan that is calculated to be profitable when we reach one million subscribers. I believe that target is realistic. If we look at the penetration of paid streaming video services (SVOD, ed.) in the Czech market, we are at around 25%. In the West, however, the level of this penetration is at least double, so there is still room for growth in our SVOD market.

Is it still true that the biggest draw on Voyo is Ordinace v růžové zahradě?

I think that’s an oversimplification. You can hardly compare a series that runs for a long time with a series of three or four episodes. Obviously, Ordinace v růžové zahradě delivers very valuable content with a loyal audience, continuously forming the backbone of a stable subscriber base. However, building Voyo on Ordinace v růžové zahradě alone would not work. In fact, viewers gradually get used to the exclusive material Voyo offers, which then becomes an attraction for other new subscribers.

So, are you thinking of returning Ordinace v růžové zahradě to linear broadcasting?

No, that’s not on the cards.

In terms of selling advertising and adding target audiences on the internet and in linear TV, we are faced with the fact that we still don’t have a single currency for measuring video content…

As for Voyo, we don’t want to sell advertising there. In the case of ad-supported video, i.e. AVOD, which is represented in our offer by Nova.cz, there are projects in the works within the ATO that would be able to measure the total reach of video. However, we are already trading incremental reach with clients that can attribute video views to a TV campaign.

Looking at the Nova Group as a whole over a number of years, how much of the turnover can SVOD, represented by the Voyo service, bring to the Group?

It is difficult to express a percentage share because we do not know how revenues from other sources will develop. But SVOD should be one of the pillars on which we want to stand in the future. It certainly won’t be key in the foreseeable future, as advertising revenue will still be the foundation. However, alongside advertising and SVOD, distribution revenues are also developing interestingly and it is our task to diversify our revenue sources in the future.

Source: mediaguru.cz

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PURPOSELY RUNNING AWAY FROM THE NEWS, BUT THEY’LL BE BACK IN THE FALL

More positive topics or tips on how to cope with the rising cost of living. That, too, is a recipe for responding to people’s frustration with the overabundance of negative events, according to TV Nova news director Kamil Houska.

Television news coverage in recent years has been marked primarily by events related to the coronavirus pandemic. This February, the war in Ukraine became the main topic. Both incidents have affected both the way television news is covered and the media behaviour of viewers. The steep interest in information has been replaced this spring by the strain of the overload of negative events, accompanied by a partial flight from television coverage. “On the other hand, there is a growing interest in news on the Internet and we see that TV and Internet news are sought out by different groups of viewers,” says Kamil Houska, director of TV Nova’s news department, who believes that viewers will return to TV news in the autumn. He sees the future of news in its availability on different platforms for different groups of viewers. “We are already fighting for young people to stay with us when they get older,” he says, pointing out that Nova’s TikTok account, which is aimed at the younger generation of “teenage” users, has been very successful.

TV news had very strong themes in the last two years, first it was covid, and since February this year it has been the Russian aggression in Ukraine. These are very serious topics that can be stressful for viewers. How has that affected interest in your news coverage?

We saw that the interest in information was high during the time of the covid pandemic. The fact that people were forced to spend time at home contributed to this, and as a result, TV ratings increased. This was the case for the whole market, not just our news segment. But now the situation is different. In the last two to three months there has been a decline in news viewership across the board. Leaving aside the fact that we are in the middle of summer, when TV ratings are always lower, the decline, according to our analysis, is linked to the fact that some people have deliberately crowded out news. We’ve talked to psychologists and sociologists about this, and they believe that after two years of people being stressed by covid and then the war in Ukraine, by the price hikes or energy security, they’ve tried to cope with the onslaught by running away from the news. For example, we’ve lost a few women in the newsroom and gained a few men. Sociologists believe that this is related to the fact that men in stressful situations tend to deal with further developments and the future, while women, at a certain stage when the stress is too much, feel more existential fears and try to push the negative things out. So now people are running away from the news because the news is negative and what is happening is negative.

Have you evaluated the need to respond to that kind of viewer behavior?

We have responded to it, of course, even though we cannot control the fact that negative things are happening that need to be reported. But we can influence the mix of news and what we emphasize. Rather than scaring people that price hikes are coming, we include stories where we try to give consumer advice and tips on how to deal with the situation. For example, we try to encourage people to save for top-ups so they are not caught out by high arrears in the autumn. We are also trying to look for more positive themes. The world is not black and white and it is not just full of bad things. We’re taking more notice of stories of interesting people and, for example, now in the summer we’re adding a travel window to every broadcast, tips for trips to give people a bit of a breather. We’re not going to change this era, but we’re seeing a lot of frustration in the community. That’s why we think people should get not only the necessary information about what’s going on tonight, but they deserve a picture of a more hopeful future for the world.

How have these two extraordinary events reflected in your work? What have you had to do differently or in a new way?

Every cloud has a silver lining. It taught us to react quickly, it exposed weaknesses we had that we were not prepared for in the long term. We lacked experience with a war situation this close to Europe. The trips of reporters with soldiers to Afghanistan or Iraq were different, because in Ukraine our reporters moved alone and without military help. We also lacked a number of things – for example, we did not have enough bulletproof vests, helmets, etc. We realised that we should introduce training for reporters in crisis areas, and we also saw how important psychological help was. We have learnt our lesson and as a result we are prepared for similar situations in the future.

I will come back to the fact that some viewers have started to avoid the news. What options do you have at that point? It’s hard to hide what’s going on…

We can’t really do that, but we have reduced the number of news pieces from Ukraine, for example. In the beginning we used to have ten to twelve of them, but now we have one to two most important news from Ukraine in one evening session. And there are days when we don’t cover Ukraine at all because there are no significant developments there. The interest of the audience is also not the same as in the beginning. It does not make as much sense to broadcast four or five reports every evening about shooting and bombing. People know that the war is on going, and if there are no tangible developments, I do not see the point. On the other hand, we are looking at Ukraine from other angles. We try to bring information about the integration of Ukrainians who have come to us, we bring news about how they are learning Czech or how their integration into the school system is being dealt with. We also try to help Ukrainians – for example, we still have a service for them in Ukrainian on TN.cz so that they can get all the information they need in their native language.

„Rather than scaring people that the price hikes are coming, we include reports where we try to give them consumer advice and tips on how to deal with the situation.“

Even before the war in Ukraine broke out, you were focused on sending your staff to Brussels. The war in Ukraine has probably overshadowed this, but how has the Brussels experience worked out for you?

The war in Ukraine has of course overshadowed everything, even covid seems to have ceased to exist. The whole world was interested in Ukraine. But we have had an excellent experience with the establishment of our headquarters in Brussels. At first we were a little worried about whether we would have enough topics. But the fears have not been confirmed and our staff is able to bring interesting topics from Brussels every day. We see this as a good step, because more and more important decisions are being made in Brussels. It has also helped us from the point of view of European politicians. By being accredited in Brussels, they see us as a relevant media outlet. It has opened the door to a number of interviews that we would not have been able to get before. Our aim is to report in an understandable way on what is happening in Brussels, and I believe we are succeeding.

Are you thinking of having a permanent Brussels correspondent?

We have never said for how long we are sending a staff to Brussels. We wanted to open up this reporting post. Coincidentally, it coincided with the Czech Presidency. But we didn’t say we were only going to Brussels for the duration of the Czech Presidency. That is not related to this. We now have a staff in Brussels and we are not thinking of abolishing it. It is not time-bound.

As far as Ukraine is concerned, you even had several reporters there. What is the situation today?

At one point we had up to three different crews in Ukraine, but now we have none. Around May, we decided that the war had reached a stage where we didn’t see any reason to keep the crews there.

How did you select the teams?

Each of our reporters could choose whether or not they wanted to go to the war zone. We didn’t force anyone, participation was purely voluntary. But I was pleasantly surprised by how many of them expressed interest in going to Ukraine. Perhaps seemingly surprisingly, women were among the first volunteers. It was essential for us as a TV organization to take good care of our people, whether it was with above-standard insurance, remuneration, or the facilities we had built for them. For someone with no experience, it was all done very professionally. And again, I must say that the way in which the crews of our television station and Czech Television treated each other was exemplary. I appreciated the fact that competitive rivalry goes aside in such situations and that we can help each other.

The things you had to do in connection with sending crews to Ukraine were – from what you have already indicated – quite complicated…

It was complicated and it was expensive. We needed to equip our people with filming equipment, bulletproof vests, helmets, we had to find large quantities of fuel in jerry cans, satellite phones or large cars in which you’d be able to sleep. Just to make the crews as self-sufficient as possible. It cost us several million crowns. We were also worried about what might happen, but now I have to say that I am not even aware that we had any problems – except for the time when our staff was detained by the army, but that was resolved, which is something that you cannot fully prepare for in advance.

Did you have to consult anyone about what things to provide for the staffs in Ukraine?

Partly. We have some experience because some of our reporters went to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I myself was in Bosnia as a young journalist. We had some idea of what needed to be provided and we also consulted military experts. But the rules that we set were also important. For example, the obligation to keep us informed of everything that was happening. Or knowing that you could come back home at any time and that there was no shame in that. Everyone knew that if they called me to say they wanted to come back, I respected that. Mental wellbeing is probably the most important thing to getting through this job.

Do you envisage sending crews to Ukraine again?

We are ready for that, but we are waiting for some impulse that will change the development fundamentally. It could be the end of the war and peace negotiations or a more massive offensive or possibly other changes in Ukrainian society. But at a time when much of the material is available through agencies, it makes no sense to keep crews in Ukraine. They would not have anything to produce. The stories and situations repeat themselves, and it makes no sense in the long run for commercial television to keep its crew on the ground for a long time in these circumstances. But if necessary, we are ready to go back within 24 hours.

Let us move on to other topics. Last year you started broadcasting from a new news studio. Are you happy with it?

We’re happy, we’ll tweak a few things, but it’s just small details. The news studio is working and now we are planning to invest in more studios. We also introduced a new sports studio before the summer and more will follow.

The studio for TN Live internet news was also newly established last year. In addition to the TV show, you are also expanding your internet news coverage. Do you plan to continue to do so?

I have long been an advocate that in a small country like the Czech Republic, building a purely news TV channel for commercial television is expensive and not effective. Its yield is, in my opinion, insufficient. That’s why we decided to go with the internet broadcast of TN Live. We are also linking it to a hybrid TV channel, from which you can click through to the live news feed. I think this is the future of news. It is more efficient and cheaper news, but at the same time it is produced in television quality and the viewer can watch it in situations where there is something to broadcast.

So you are still not considering a news TV channel?

We are not.

But does an internet news channel combined with a TV news channel have such an audience impact?

It’s not as if TN Live boosts TV viewership or vice versa. But it reaches a different group of people. When I talked about the fact that all TV stations saw a drop in evening news in May, on the other hand, we see that the traffic to our website TN.cz is increasing tremendously, and thus the viewership of the TN Live internet news. It’s different types of people that consume news. Our basic philosophy is to create news and deliver it in appropriate ways to different groups of viewers or readers. We put some on TV, some on the internet, some on social media. That’s the future. We just tailor the reporting we produce to where people receive it. That’s how we reach different audiences and increase the overall impact of the news.

But there’s no telling what the cumulative impact is…

It’s unfortunately difficult. A large number of viewers still watch TV, and with the internet, people change throughout the day and don’t watch news all day. Someone comes to the web 20 times a day and spends 10 minutes there. You can’t do a simple summation. But nowadays, it is not so important whether they see a story on TV, on the internet or on social media. Young people consume most news only on social media. If we are not on the networks, we will lose part of the audience because these people will not watch TV in the evening. Then there is a group of people who cannot function without television. There is another group that listens to the radio during the day, goes on the web and keeps up with the basic events of the day. Yet, in the evening they turn on the TV news because they are looking for a news summary of the day. Television news has the biggest impact on people despite the huge growth of the Internet.

Do you tailor the content and format of your coverage to the types of social media?

We tailor our posts to each social network. For example, we don’t expect the youngest generation of 15-year-olds to watch TV news in the evening. At the same time, we don’t want to lose the younger generation. That’s why we prepare news for them on TikTok, for example. When we started this, many people thought it was pointless. It’s not true. Yes, it’s a quick, short message, but we have hundreds of thousands of views on some of them. It’s not even true that young people aren’t interested in news. They’re just interested in something, maybe in a shorter, more entertaining way. Every social network is relevant for us to create news on. We’re successful with younger viewers on TikTok, and we believe that if we work with this generation, they’ll find us later in life – whether it’s online with TN Live or on TV with Television News. We are already fighting for the young to be with us when they are older.

„We’re successful with younger viewers on TikTok, and we believe that if we work with this generation, they’ll find us later in life – whether it’s online with TN Live or on TV with Television News.“

Are you preparing special broadcasts for the Senate and local elections?

We are preparing pre-election coverage for the Senate and local elections, but these are elections that are less central, so we will not focus on them as intensively as the parliamentary elections. The number one event for the second half of the year is the presidential elections, where we are preparing a number of surprises.

Finally, how do you estimate the development of audience interest in TV news in the second half of this year?

I believe that the decline in viewership that came in April and May this year is temporary. In June, the ratings started to improve, but then the holidays came. I think people will come back to TV news in the autumn.

Source: mediaguru.cz