Ushuaïa TV’s general director Didier Sapaut talks to TBIvision

The channel: Ushuaïa TV
The buyer: Didier Sapaut, general director
Recent acquisitions: Wasted (All3Media International), Oldies but Goldies (Off The Fence), E2 :Energy (TVF)
Looking for: Documentaries, feature films

Ushuaïa TV is one of the three documentary channels operated by TF1, sitting alongside Historie and Odyssée. It reaches 2.7million subscribers via cable and satellite in France, Belgium and Switzerland. The channel, which is set to launch a high definition simulcast next year, has recently undergone a revamp, focusing on environmental and green themes.

Why did you change the channel’s focus?
Protection of the earth and sustainable development have taken greater importance in France and across the world. We want to answer to the collective public interest and expectations. At the same time, there has been a significant rise in the amount of programming based on these ideas.

What is are the overall aims of the channel?

Ushuaïa’s mission is still to make people interested about nature, respecting it but also learning and understanding about it. We’re aiming at becoming a reference channel in this field. As an extension to the channel, TF1 has also launched a sustainable development website called, accessible through the TF1 homepage.

What is your current programing strategy?
Some 30 % of the schedule remain focused on nature, but 70 % is now dedicated to sustainable development and earth protection through four themes : green coaching or how becoming a green citizen, new lifestyles, the preservation of the environment and finally how to fight and prevent the effects of pollution. We produce a daily magazine show Passage au vert inhouse related to this last theme. Besides documentaries, the channel offers two feature films slots so as to attract a wider audience.

What is the mix of acquisitions and original productions?
Acquisitions represent 90 % of our programming budget and 95 % of our schedule. We can commission a few programmes to French producers like Gédéon’s Tomorrow an Iceless World and FCA’s series Sentinels of Nature.

What have you acquired recently?
All3Media International format Wasted, documentary Big Ideas for a Small Planet from Sundance Channel, Oldies but Goldies from Off The Fence, E2 :Energy from TVF. Mostly, we’re looking for new and exclusive programming. In terms of feature films, we’ve recently acquired Jeremiah Johnson, The Emeradl Forest, or The Gods Must Be Crazy.

How will Ushuaïa’s move affect doc channel Odyssée?
As of next September, [Odyssée] will be dedicated to lifestyle and well-being.

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