BRATISLAVA: While locally produced content enjoys comparatively high viewership in Slovakia, domestic TV channels’ foreign sales and cross-border coproduction activities are still in their infancy, with neighbouring Czech Republic holding its position as Slovakia’s most important partner. But signs of expansion into the international arena are beginning to appear.
Surprisingly, public service broadcaster Slovak Television (STV, www.stv.sk), part of the newly-created Radio and Television of Slovakia (www.rtvs.sk), appears to be more successful in selling its programmes abroad than commercial stations.
"The most sought after programmes are our fairy-tales and cartoons," STV spokesperson Lucia Habancová told FNE.
Among the public broadcaster's recently sold programmes are a 1987 Czechoslovak-German children's film The Peacock's Feather (Pávie pierko), a 2000 TV drama Small Town Fragments (Frangmenty z malomesta), and Legends 60 (Legendy 60), a 2008 co-production documentary on the Slovak Beat generation of the 1960's.
"However, these are usually older pieces, as most of our newly-produced films and series do not have an ITB-Mix version, meaning that they cannot be dubbed over; therefore, we usually sell only to Czech channels such as Czech TV, TV Nova, or CS Film," said Habancová. The complete offer of STV's programmes is available on the website of Telexim, STV's sales agency (www.stv.sk/telexim).
As for co-productions, STV mostly partners with Slovak producers, who may establish a foreign co-production on a given project, but STV itself does not actively seek co-productions, Habancová stated.
Like STV, TV Markíza (www.markiza.sk), Slovakia's leading broadcaster owned by Central European Media Enterprises (CME, www.cetv-net.com), also most often partners with Czech companies.
"Being part of a multinational media company, we can easily co-operate with our sister channels in other countries; however, given the close linguistic, cultural and geographic ties, we most often team up with our Czech sister, TV Nova," said Peter Chalupa, head of Markíza's acquisition department.
To date, co-operation with TV Nova has concerned format shows such as Superstar or Talentmania, but "many new projects are underway," Chalupa stated.
Over the past few years, Markíza has produced several scripted series, including the medical drama Doctor's Office in the Rose Garden (Ordinácia v ružovej záhrade) and the sitcom Neighbours (Susedia), both of which are both among the channel's most popular programmes. The latter has recently been sold - including adaptation rights - to a foreign territory that Chalupa did not want to specify.
Markíza's foreign sales are handled by MediaPro Distribution (www.mediaprodistribution.com), the exclusive sales agent of programmes produced by CME.
Still, Markíza primarily focuses on the local audience.
"Local production has lately seen a significant rise in viewership rates. As a result, all Slovak broadcasters have been increasing the share of their originally produced content, and Markíza wants to join in by offering high-quality content meant primarily for the domestic audience," Chalupa told FNE.
He concluded, the channel "does not a priori refuse" the possibility of more extensive international co-production, "provided it brings an attractive product that at the same time satisfies cost-effectiveness requirements."
TV JOJ (www.joj.sk), which comes just after Markíza in terms of viewership rates, but leads the market in the volume of locally-produced content, does not engage in massive international co-productions, either. However, it co-operates with TV Prima, a major Czech private TV channel, in producing format shows such as Czechoslovakia's Got Talent.
"Also, some of our most successful series and formats have been broadcast in the Czech Republic," said Jozef Gogola, head PR manager at JOJ. "These have been created in co-operation with the best production companies present in Slovakia."
Gogola added that the Slovak section of Freemantle Media (www.fremantlemedia.com) is one of JOJ's closest co-production partners, but remained circumspect about JOJ's future plans in developing international projects "for strategic reasons."
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