CME to boost local production, develop own formats

Central European Media Enterprises (CME), the pan regional CEE broadcaster, plans to up its local production activities via MediaPro Entertainment, the production arm it acquired last year from its  CEO Adrian Sarbu.

The broadcasting group said it is keen to reduce its dependence on acquired formats. Speaking at the Digital TV Central and Eastern Europe conference in Bucharest, organized by TBIvision publisher Informa Telecoms & Media, CME vice-president, corporate affairs Oliver Meister said that the company plans to strengthen its position across its markets by boosting its programming line-up through increased local production, initially focusing on non-fiction formats.

“We want to invest further in local production,” said Meister. He said that CME planned to launch a talent-show format in two of its markets across three hours on Friday evenings in prime time soon. Meister said that CME wanted to invest initially in “non-fiction reality programming using our own formats rather than someone else’s. We have had a lot of acquired programming in sports where prices have gone up, and we believe that if we focus prime time more on our own local production we can control costs better”.

The company currently relies primarily on international formats – the Croatian version of Fremantle’s Got Talent was sold to CME’s Nova TV rather than RTL’s local station because the former was willing to pay more for it – but Meister said the company wanted to reduce its dependence on properties it did not own full rights to. “In many of our markets these brands really have no great value and we are sustaining them, so our view is that we should create our own brands and formats,” he said.

CME will initially focus on non-fiction reality programming, a decision based on the economics of delivering content to relatively small emerging markets with low average incomes. “Non-fiction programming is more cost-effective at the moment, especially in smaller markets and we are focusing on that at the moment,” said Meister. “To produce a telenovela or drama is more costly. You simply can’t get the money back from a one-hour piece of fiction.” Nevertheless, he said, CME was considering producing fiction programming that would work across multiple territories in the region, an initiative that he said would hopefully bear fruit next year.

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