THE YOUNGIFICATION OF GERMAN PUBLIC SERVICE TELEVISION VIA MULTIPLATFORMED AND TRANSNATIONAL DRAMA

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    Abstract

    Since the 1990s, when the cable channels reached a phase of consolidation, public service television in Germany has largely attracted older audiences (Hirsch, Förster, 2004). In particular, its dramas followed well-established patterns and formats and included stars that have survived as heart-throbs since the 1980s (Sascha Hehn being a good example). However, although programmes that have been broadcast for a long time are still going strong,i there are clearly changes afoot. Dramas such as Babylon Berlin (Sky Deutschland, ARD, since 2017) and Bad Banks (ZDF, Arte, since 2018) are using formulas, developed originally by the commercial broadcasters such as Sat 1 and RTL, in order to ‘youngify’ their audiences. Both are very stylish in mise-en-scene, camera work, sound design and editing, and both focus, like programmes such as Deutschland ’83 (RTL, 2015) before them, on charismatic young protagonists who are at the same time deeply flawed. What is interesting about this development is that the public service broadcasters in Germany have developed this approach by forging national and international collaborations – often with channels that are perceived as rivals and seem to operate in contradistinction to their own remits and values. This includes the collaboration with satellite and fiercely commercial broadcaster Sky on Babylon Berlin, but is not restricted to this. This paper uses Babylon Berlin and Bad Banks as case studies to investigate how the youngification of public service drama is achieved by the collaboration with transnational institutions that often operate on different platforms (for example satellite). Drawing on a mixed method that includes textual analysis and interviews with industry personnel, it will show that the shift towards this youngification of public service drama is closely connected to a reconceptualization of the young audiences by commissioners and producers who have traditionally thought that the young audiences watch no or little television, but had already by the mid-2000s been found to largely watch television serials online, often illegally (Bruce, 2009). The transnational collaboration enables the public service broadcasters to redistribute the risk (Hesmondhalgh, 2018) that this re-invention allows, whilst also accessing a broader range of talent that includes international cast and crew as well as other production expertise.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2019
    EventThe Youthification of Television and Screen Culture: ECREA Television Studies Conferene 2019 - University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
    Duration: 24 Oct 201925 Oct 2019
    https://ecreatelevisionstudies2019.wordpress.com/programme/

    Conference

    ConferenceThe Youthification of Television and Screen Culture
    CountryNetherlands
    CityGroningen
    Period24/10/1925/10/19
    Internet address

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  • Projects

    Transnational Television Drama in the Multiplatform Age

    WEISSMANN, E. & Dunleavy, T.

    1/05/191/05/21

    Project: Research

    Cite this

    WEISSMANN, ELKE. (2019). THE YOUNGIFICATION OF GERMAN PUBLIC SERVICE TELEVISION VIA MULTIPLATFORMED AND TRANSNATIONAL DRAMA. Paper presented at The Youthification of Television and Screen Culture, Groningen, Netherlands.