Mgr. VLADIMÍR VOJÍŘ
TV KOPRODUKCE DOKUMENTÁRNÍCH FILMŮ ČESKÉ TELEVIZE
Maďarsko, BUDAPEŠŤ - Hotel Sofitel
DISCOP - Market for TV Business in Emerging Territories
Budapešť, červen 1998
presented by Vladimir VOJIR
CZECH TELEVISION (CT)
a public service TV broadcaster, operates on two national terrestrial channels CT 1 and CT 2, both with almost 100% penetration. Established in 1992 by law, CT is a self-owned, independent organisation with no state subsidies. Its financing comes mainly from license fees - USD 2,20 per month paid by every owner of a TV receiver. This presents about 60% of total revenues, with the remaining part supplied by income from advertising (limited by law to 1% of air time) and other commercial activities.
Program orientation is universal. In 1997, total broadcasting time represented more than 15.000 hrs with more than 50% of first showing. Share of foreign acquisition is more than 30%. More detailed information can be found in brochures FACTS AND FIGURES 97/98 which are available here.
CT has been the EBU member since 1993 and a subscriber of the EBU Educational TV Unit. It is also a member of EUROSPORT and CIRCOM, was a member of MAP TV, and it participates in PBI movement and activities of Eureka Audiovisual.
Our organisational structure is a little bit atypical, with two TV studios in Brno and Ostrava. In Prague headquarters, there are News and Sports Departments and three Production Centres - a Centre of Artistic Programs, of Acquired Programs and a Centre of Documentaries, in which I am in charge of co-productions.
PRODUCTION CENTRE OF DOCUMENTARIES (CT)
Our main activity has been production of documentary, educational and current affairs programs. Last year, we produced more than 500 hrs of new programs. Most of this production is in-house but about 60 hrs was commissioned or co-produced with international and domestic partners. Total expenses per one hour documentary varies between 10.000,- USD to 50.000,- USD depending on type of domestic origin production.
In recent years, we co-produced a lot of single documentaries mostly with independent film producers from Western Europe. For example, LES FILMS d' ICI, CONSTANCE FILMS and INA from France, PANDORA PRODUCTIONS from Belgium, MAGIC HOUR FILMS from Denmark, MA.JA.DE from Germany, with Israeli ARGO FILMS and others. But also with TV broadcasters, such as BR Munchen, YLE Helsinki , HRT Zagreb etc. With other European TV broadcasters we participated in several co-productions of educational series under the auspices of EBU. (Personally, I am sorry that our formerly very intensive co-operation with countries in Central and East European countries in this field has been diminished following political changes).
Realized co-production projects were mostly those offered to us by other partners. As far as co-productions with independent producers are concerned, the "real" ones prevailed, with our direct participation in the whole process. Educational series were mostly multi co-productions on co-financing basis or pool-type co-productions. Except for minor problems, resulting from different technological standards or changes in time schedules, this co-operation was mostly highly successful. Some of these projects were awarded at inter-national festivals and highly acclaimed.
On the other hand, we often receive co-production proposals from independent producers who just look for other sources of financing and offer subjects that might be interesting but a little too specific for Czech audience. e.g., a documentary on homeless in Ireland; if it does not compare the situation in both countries, we can make our own feature, or buy the Irish completed one when it is done. I do not see any reason to enter such a co-production.
Based on our previous experience, programming needs and possibilities, our priorities and preferred forms of co-productions in the future are the following:
Documentaries: subjects - history and social. Duration one hour, but shorter ones are also possible. If we make in co-production a 90 min. 35 mm film, where theatrical distribution for cinema release is required, we always need a 60 min. edited BETA version for our broadcasting slot.
Educational: school children (series max 20 min., science and technology, ecology, geography), teenagers (series 15-60 min., edutainment), adults (series 10-60 min).
The least interesting form of co-production for us is co-financing. In such a case we are to accept an entirely passive role, without any influence on program content, just to contribute rather large amount to the total budget, usually to big for our standard. In such cases we prefer to buy it, even without a co-producer status, with a time limited license and without a share on sale to third countries - which are not too significant, if there are any at all. Pool-type co-productions, where each partner produces its part of the series on its costs and exchanges it with others, can be interesting but sometimes the series is too heterogeneous, with varying concepts and artistic level of individual parts. That is why we recommend that one of the partners has a role of editorial supervisor which should guarantee a unified concept and audiovisual standard of the whole series, while respecting individual approaches. The best form, from our point of view, is the "real" co-production, where CT actively participates in production, including scripts collaboration /editorial involvement and/or services and capacities. We have experienced creative teams and technology up to West European standards, including S 16 and 35 mm labs. And our prices are still lower than elsewhere. But regardless the form, the foremost condition of our participation is a good project, high quality program, interesting for Czech audience.
I would like to close by few words on problems of co-production agreements. From my experience in negotiating international co-productions, I can say that the standard of agreements varies substantially. I assume that a good agreement should be almost like a manual and requires not only legal but also technical and economical knowledge. Problems ensue not only from different legal regulations in various countries but also from a different approach to agreements in general. Personally, I strive for a compromise solution which through a generalisation make possible a certain standardisation of agreements that are then clear, logically and visually arranged and thus acceptable for all. Besides, these model agreements, created in commonly used PC formats, substantially speed up the whole process and lower its cost. I would welcome an exchange of experiences with colleagues from other countries.
We are open to co-productions and we look forward to new opportunities.