2014 | 04 | 16
Dagmar Reim about the future of TV
Dagmar Reim, General Director at German public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, will talk about Berlin-Brandenburg as Germany’s showcase location for the digital economy. Prior she writes about Slow-TV, public broadcasting and the future of television:
“media rules!” –title of the new “Media Convention” in Berlin. “Digital”, “global” and, of course, “innovative” is the name of the game. Those, like me, representing the public service broadcaster on panels and forums can quickly fall into the role of the medial cuneiform expert: competent in knowledge, stalwart of “the good old days” and altogether distant from current trends and developments. Mainstream views tend to be: public service broadcasting equals 8-bit television for the “average Joe”.
To be fair, there is plenty of regrettable content shown on German television. 50 years ago, Marshall McLuhan, described the light bulb as a content void, but socially effective, “medium”. Today, I apply that same analogy to scripted-reality formats or infomercials on my television screen.
Norway’s current, furore inducing “Slow TV” programmes remind me of our highly successful, nightly broadcasts of S-Bahn journeys and aquarium footage. We discovered: continuous loops of aquarium footage from Potsdam are tremendously popular amongst viewers.
So, what should we do? Drop the notion of linear programming and move to fully personalised content? The possibilities for stringing together individualised content are already fascinating – for example, through the interplay of satellite TV and Internet, anyone can now form their very own and customised views of the Crimean conflict.
This is particularly attractive for intellectual and economic elites, for whom media consumption is not influenced by budgetary constraints and from whom self-reflective media is a daily routine. However, there is also noticeable trend: these digital bohemians are often the ones who complain the loudest, despite the fact that in recent years, television has catered more and better for this group than other.
And what about all those, who want to continue to use the medium in “traditional” ways? Doesn’t the “average Joe” have the right not be abandoned to a colourful, empty, light bulb? Yes, I defend television formats, even if I do not watch them myself. We no longer describe television as a complete programme; instead we increasingly only rate single elements, as audiences fragment into small identity groups. Tagesschau’s daily new round-up, spotlight Crimea, Sesame Street are good - soap operas, spotlight weather, quiz shows are bad.
Information, education and entertainment – the public service broadcasters’ programming assignment is a comprehensive package. It provides television with a meaning for society as a whole. Of course, it is always exciting to see which channel broadcasts the next “Borgen” or how elegantly second screen can be implemented, but those who claim that viewer numbers are overrated have clearly misunderstood the point of a mass medium. “media rules!” – if this statement is true then we should not simply ask “what” is on television, but also for “whom” and “why”.