Opening New Horizons
In the same way that we are not all similar, the TV business has its own specifics in different regions and countries. It varies depending on cultural background, history, legal system and sometimes even religion and believes. Let’s have a closer look at different environs and conditions for running the TV business in different parts of the world, compare them and find answers to some important questions about how to sharpen the TV business in the right way. Who generally owns TV stations in different countries? What kind of content do they prefer to broadcast? What do they produce and why? What are their plans for the future? And others.
We decided to shed some light on the situation in the media industry in the Middle East (UEA) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan), countries that have not been so publicly available until recently and now are ready to share their experience with SSTR. Moreover, we’ve got interested with the TV industry in Brunei, which also seems to be terra incognita in every sense of the word. Let’s cross the border of the cultural diversity and have a look as is the case with the TV business the other way around. Who knows, maybe the grass is really greener there?
Beity TV Channel
United Arab Emirates
Dalal, are you going to launch a new DIY channel soon? What was the reason for such decision and what are your first steps in this direction?
Yes, we will really launch the Beity TV Channel soon. We were supposed to start broadcasting in September, but there were some issues that have not been settled yet. The idea of launching the channel came into my head in light of my profound interest in everything that relates to our lifestyle in general: cooking, handcrafts, decor and design, beauty, hair and make-up, nail art, fitness, etc. The reason to launch such a challenging and complicated business, as I’ve already mentioned, was the fact that I do represent the female audience in particular and prefer to watch all of those lifestyle programs on one channel, without spending too much time to searching for my favorite shows flipping through a variety of TV channels. In addition, until now we have no purely lifestyle channel in the region, which is very important for me.
Are there any other DIY channels in your country?
There are few cooking channels. And some general channels that broadcast various lifestyle programs at a certain time.
Are you going to use the DIY format only or maybe you have some others ideas?
So, these are my first steps since the time when I started to learn about media in general and how this channel can achieve people. I will use this channel to broadcast on issues related to the lifestyle, as have said before.
What kind of audience would you like to attract? Who is your viewer?
The channel will have various lifestyle programs, and should be interesting for every member of the family, but as for me, I think the core of the audience should be women.
What shows do you currently have and which ones would you like to have in the nearest future?
We have a variety of lifestyle programs, including TV shows that I have already purchased from different production companies, as well as those that we’ve produced on our own. In the future, we plan to develop the same topics but with some variations in order to go with the times and be in the mainstream, and also depending on what the audience will be interested in and wait for. However, there are certain types of shows, which we could not broadcast now, as they require huge efforts and sponsorship support.
Which types of shows are most popular among the audience in your region? Can you explain why?
Cooking programs are most popular in the region like everywhere else, to the best of my belief. Today, not only women are interested in cooking. Moreover, people have more fun making a meal than before. So, cooking is a lovely experience that all family members love to be involved in.
Do you plan to promote the brand as a TV channel only or do you have some ideas to produce this kind of shows on your own?
We are a TV channel first of all, but of course we have and work on others ideas as well, such as launching our magazine and website, go in the social media.
Do you target only local audience or are there some other territories where your channel is viewed?
The channel broadcasts programs in the MENA region, through NileSat, but we target all people who speak Arabic language, therefore I don’t want to be local at all
What do you expect fot after implementation of your idea after all?
I hope that it will meet the need of our audience to the greatest possible extent as we work hard to win their favour.
Do you plan to carry out PR or advertising campaigns to attract more audience? Tell us about this?
After launching our channel we will take some time to see how matters will stand. So if we will have a necessity to attract more audience, we will gradually launch advertising campaigns as well. For example, we can start through the social media, then engage friends, and so on.
Do you have any particular plans regarding the future development and could you share them with us?
As for the future development, as I said before answering one of the previous questions, it depends on what the audience we expect from us at a certain point. However, in general we have lots of ideas, but all we need is time and understanding of how the audience reacts to what we do. I can tell you one thing for sure: we will develop the live show format for certain programs.
DM DON SQUARE ENT
Mariani, could you tell the truth, what is the TV in Brunei as such? Is it a business or more a tool of information influence?
I can say that the state as the sole owner of all TV stations uses 80% of the whole airtime for the informational influence and only 20% for the business needs, and we do hope that the second figure will increase in the nearest future. There have many plans for the future, but our priority is definitely to strengthen the network while saving the moral values of the local audience.
How can the owner of a TV channel make money in Brunei?
Actually, we are searching for ways to sponsor those programs that we find matching to the local audience’s expectations. As accredited vendor for RTB, we sell programs that are in harmony with the guidelines of our client.
Who generally become sponsors and what conditions do they have for TV business? What do they expect for at their end? Where do media companies get their budgets from after all? Is there any state support for production?
As I have mentioned before, TV in Brunei is completely centralized. Since the state owns all TV stations, everything is controlled by the government and consequently each budget is allocated annually. There are no other TV networks alongside the state-owned ones. Becoming the sponsor is optional. The programs are usually approved by the Board of Censors and they will be broadcasted even regardless the sponsorship, if they fit well. For the local production, as I mentioned before, the common demand is that it should be within the guidelines of MIB (Malay Islamic Monarchy), which is the leading philosophy in Brunei.
What governs the way you are running the media business?
It may sound that everything is done just by one ‘clique’, but we do our work with perseverance, dedication and commitment to both our Client and our Principals. We really want to meet demands of our Client by delivering high-quality media contents, innovative solutions and our dedicative professionalism. We are persevering through challenges along the way to prove our reputation and to gain the trust of our audience. We’ve gained it through the years of maintaining our policy while working closely with our Clients in order to identify their specific needs and requirements.
And what would you say about the filmmaking industry in Brunei? How matters stand there?
Frankly speaking, Brunei has no filmmaking industry at the present moment. Local productions are mainly working for the local audience and we have very few people who are involved in this field. The reason may be small population and limited scope of content materials. Anyway, recently we could notice some positive changes, for example, we already have some really good results from our joint projects with foreign video production companies. Thus two films have already been produced, and the first one was very well accepted by our local audience, and even has good feedbacks abroad; it is still making rounds in the international film markets.
How do you usually share the airtime? What is the percentage of the airtime that the local and foreign channels get and what is the origin of the foreign content?
About 30% of the airtime is dedicated to local programs, and 70% come from foreign programmers, but nevertheless we are trying to encourage our local production companies to produce more content for our local TV channels. We are actively working on this issue right now. Foreign content originates mainly from the USA, Australia, Canada, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and India among others.
What are general requirements for the content that you broadcast on your channels?
Our main demand is that the content complies within the Islamic values since we have Muslim population for the most part.
So, in general, summarizing the above said, what contents are more preferable for the local companies to produce and why?
Usually, local production companies produce dramas and documentaries to be broadcasted on local channels. We hope that very soon we will be able to produce different contents that will appeal to a wider range of viewers.
Which formats are used more often and why? What does your audience prefer to watch in general?
There are primarily family oriented programs, which promote our Islamic values within the audience. For example – love stories, drama, action, suspense, lifestyle, edutainment, documentary content. RTB purchases feature films to broadcast on TV only. This is especially important for some festive occasions. Our company also collaborates also with theatre owners. It gives us an opportunity to release films that we license overseas for the cinema.
“Our main requirement is that the content complies with the Islamic values as the majority of people living here are Muslims.”
Tell us about some special projects. What contents are you mostly focused on?
We try to pay attention to the Social Responsibility issues. It’s more about informing people about the current events in the country. We are trying to organize more campaigns aimed at increasing the public awareness on health and safety.
Ms. Mariani, what do you think about the censorship on TV in Brunei?
In my point of view, the rules set limits to the content and this is necessary considering the fact that Brunei Darussalam is a developing country, and we have certain rules to abide to and follow. Thus censorship is a very important and compulsory factor for our TV in particular and the society in general. Nevertheless we do not forget that we have ideas that should be expressed.
With regard to the local channels, what are they oriented at in general? What kinds of content seem to be broadcasted more often or not so often?
Our local TV channels are generally oriented at news and information contents, especially at local news and events.
And what about the advertisement. What is the average amount of advertisement on TV comparing with the Brunei`s regional neighbors?
Today, the common advertising practice in Brunei is not as aggressive as in our ASEAN counterparts, which is carried out more on a revenue basis.
Does the state support local production companies? Or there is no such support provided in Brunei at the moment?
Yes, there are some minimal budgets that are allocated to local production companies, but I cannot give you an exact figure as it depends on the type of content they are producing.
Could you tell us about the ideas and plans you have already mentioned?
For the last five years the changes we have faced were incredible. We have introduced new HD programs; we can use the file share server Aspera, as well as file with the .ftp extension. We are looking forward to the bright future, as we start to distribute contents for mobile applications, open new media, OTT and other platforms thus extending our audience by using new interesting segments. We hope that our company will bring some lacking technical tools to the local media.
Moreover, using broadcasting possibilities and TV we plan to significantly influence further social development by promoting the economic growth and identifying relevant social programs. I am sure that Brunei has an untapped potential which should be popularized and promoted with the focus on our rich cultural heritage as well as our flora and fauna. Brunei is a tax-free country, so we would like to invite future investors and entrepreneurs to enter the market and set up regional offices, and at the same time take advantages and benefits, which our country can offer in its business friendly environment. We are looking forward to finding trusted partners for further productive collaborations on ideas that we hope to implement in the nearest future. We can facilitate the new market in the region and give all necessary support in the event of need. For example, if your office is based in Europe or America then there’s no need to send your officers to ASIA or neighboring countries as we can make transactions for foreign principals. Besides, we would like to acquire and sell the rights to other films in other countries aside from Brunei Darussalam.
the 7th channel
Please describe, who is your viewer?
The Seventh Channel is a family entertainment channel, one of the top five Kazakh channels. Our target audience is a family that prefers to watch TV in private, in the family circle. Therefore, when producing our programs, we consider that our audience consists of different family generations.
Which content and formats are more preferable for broadcasting on your channel?
We are constantly looking for and trying new things. Within a period of seven years of working in Kazakhstan, the Seventh Channel has become one of the leaders in production of own projects that every season launches projects in the Kazakh and Russian languages. We are not afraid to experiment, to set ambitious targets and achieve them. Case in point: adaptation of the most successful TV formats in the world.
Tell us more about your experience in adapting these popular TV formats?
Since 2011, we have adapted and aired three new formats: ‘Show of forty million tenge’, an adaptation of ‘The Money Drop’ show (Endemol), the musical project ‘Star Factory’ (‘Жұлдыздар фабрикасы’), Kazakh version of ‘Operaciun Triunfo’ (Endemol), ‘Star Dance’, an adaptation of the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ format which his very popular in the world.
In 2013, we successfully launched the first project in Kazakhstan devoted to weight loss, a reality show ‘Dance! Dance!’, an analogue of the popular ‘Dance You Ass OFF’ format.
In 2015, the most explosive television intellectual-entertaining show in the Kazakhstan was launched on the Seventh Channel – ‘BOOM’, which is one of the most popular franchises owned by the Israeli company Keshet Broadcasting Ltd. This was the pilot project since we implemented new know-how technologies. In the second season, we were also the first in the Kazakh media market who launched the ‘Second screen’ technology.
How do you normally form you broadcast programs: what do you focus on and how do you choose the content?
This autumn will be no exception for our viewers. Selection of the genre orientation for the key season projects is a very important factor, and here we do not follow our own ‘wish list’. Of course, we monitor trends in the global TV market, directions that the leading production studios focus on, but those are not the main factors that determine our content. This year, we carried out a study using the Need Scope methodology, defined characteristics of our target audience considering its emotional toiletries, and developed the guidelines to the content. The research results have pleasantly surprised us. In 2013, according to the results of the same studies, the audience had more interest in analytical programs, news and talk shows on sensational topics. But this year the picture has changed: family values and harmonious relationships with other people came to the fore. The viewers claim for the peace and stability – this is something what they can find in a circle of close friends. People close not only in terms of interests, family connections, but also in terms of where they live. As a result, in the recent years the word ‘patriotism’ can be heard more often in the society, the Kazakh product has become more interesting, the audience has become more loyal. We could observe this last year when the state-sponsored channels produced their own series that probably for the first time ever turned to be more popular than the Turkish and Indian soap operas.
Tell us more about the content of your production?
Considering the successful experience of the series of our own production, this fall we decided to continue this trend with the focus on patriotism and family values. In the new TV season, we will launch four series, aimed at the family audience. Each series has its own flavor. Of course, there is a series with a classic storyline, as well as those with more daring stories. We are confident that they all will make a conquest of our audience, for example, ‘People in Love’ (‘Махаббат жандары’) melodrama.
This is a love story of two main characters – Zhanibek and Aruzhan – which blossoms despite all challenging life situations and circumstances. The parents and relatives of the lovers are sworn enemies. Their fathers are big businessmen, who are fighting for the leading position in the common business sphere, the one day things even came to the court, but Zhanibek and Aruzhan find out about this conflict between their fathers much later. Intrigues spun by ill-wishers become a real challenge Zhanibek and Aruzhan who want to save their feelings.
Or we also have a family comedy titled ‘The Place in the Sun’. The 25-year-old man named Bob (Bobek) is a single handsome talented fashion-photographer working in the most popular magazine of the country. Bob plans to go abroad, to New York, pursuing his long-nurtured dream to work in the supercool photo studios with popular stars. But, on one ordinary days, he receives a phone call that changes his life forever.
He finds out that his sister died and her three daughters are now all alone. Since he is the only relative they have, he is asked to shelter the girls and take custody. When he has to decide whether to fly to New York and follow his dream or stay in Almaty with the girls, Bob chooses the second variant – and gets an okay and support from his friends.
This comedy drama is about how children can bring love and understanding in extremely serious adult relationships, as well as how we sometimes, rushing for material values, do not notice the simplest things that make us truly happy.
So, we know what has already been done. Now tell us about your hopes and plans for the future, what are your dreams and what do you strive for?
Considering that the family and family values are high priority for our viewer, as well as some other factors, this fall we will launch a unique television project ‘We want to have a baby!’ The project has no analogues in the country. ‘We want to have a baby!’ is a social project that will not only allow 10 Kazakh families to realize their dream of becoming parents, but will also become an accessible and high-quality information source about the IVF procedure. For the period of 54 weeks on the air – from conception to birth – we will keep watch over the project participants and empathize with them. This is more than just a television project. This is a program that goes beyond the TV boundaries.
Tell us about the current trends in the TV business in the Kazakh media market as a whole? What do you rely on and why?
Needless to say that we primarily rely on our own production. No doubt that those who learn how to produce a cheaper product with a higher quality, those will win. It is obvious that today the Kazakh viewers want to see our domestic product on TV. And only now, 20 years after the independent television appeared in the country, we make the first steps to meet this demand.
But there is one drawback. It is referred to one peculiar feature of the Kazakh market: we are a big country and a small population, only 17 million people. Thus, the advertising market is narrow. In addition, it lost 100-120% over the last year in the foreign currency equivalent. Therefore, we are not able to produce large-scale shows, which would be very popular among the Kazakhs. Our own product – the avant-garde – that we launch in the new season is unfortunately not marginal. And its production for television is always fraught with difficulties, ‘minus’ burden, so it seems to be foolish to expect that the TV channels will suddenly begin to produce something great within this period.
At the same time, we as TV makers should surprise, regardless of our financial status. And this season, we have made every effort to please our viewers with our own contents. We hope that those projects that we will present in the new season will appeal to our audience.
(on the left of the photo)
All audience-related studies show that the Kazakhs wants to see the Kazakhs on TV, they want to be involved in the success of their fellow citizens, they want to see how they grow and keep up with the times, they look for beautiful faces on TV. High interest fixed to the Olympics is a direct demonstration of this. As for our own production, this season we decided to go the beaten road: new seasons of the already proven and favorite programs will be shown in the pre-prime and prime time. There will be no experiments with the genre.
We are very proud of our project ‘Bride Race’, which not only became one of the most popular projects in spring 2016, but has also set a new trend – development of a female line in the future. We hope that the program will not lose momentum over the next season. The Kazakh families do like spend their free time watching humorous concerts. In the new season we will also present ‘Burak Humour Festival’ project in the new cover.
Tell us what other own products will you offer to your viewers.
31st channel, External Affairs: Carrying on the tradition of the family safe and entertainment channel, we have produced a number of national TV products for the new season.
These programs are specifically designed for our audience – they are understandable and close to the way the Kazakhs think.
Among the premiers of the new season is showbiz news program ‘Let them talk’ with Anna Danchenko. The program launched in May this year, has already become one of the most popular and top-rated projects within a short period of time.
Since September, we also launched the Summer Games of the first Kazakhstan humor festival ‘Burak Humour Festival’. The purpose of the project is to find and support talented comic artists and collectives within the republic.
In the second season, we will launch the Kazakh TV market show ‘Bride Race 2’: the participants will have to persuade the whole country that their wedding was the best one.
Besides, we will continue with the already beloved public life stories of the ‘Urban legends’ characters, but this will be a new series ‘Zhenatiki’ (young husbands), just with the same characters. The film was directed by a young professional Sanjar Umarov, and the author of the idea and the producer of the project became well known comedians in the country, Daut Shaikhislamov and Sabit Rakhimbaev.
In the program ‘1001 anecdote’, the celebrities will personally tell us their fanny true stories. We also plan to launch a completely new project – the working title is ‘Women’s View’ – with the participation of famous people, representatives of various sectors of society. This will be a studio interview-program. How to become a successful and happy person? How to define one’s life journey? How to build a strong family and save relationships? How to wend one’s way through life and stay healthy, stylish and attractive at the same time?
Moreover, we are preparing to release a new social and consumer information program. This will be important economic news and consumer information put into plain and simple language, with application generalizations and infographics.