Environment issues create a storm at MIPTV


Cannes, France: New distribution channels, mobile developments and broadband opportunities have been the big discussion issues at MIPTV over the past three years. Now environmental concerns are creating a debating storm under the Green theme launched by MIPTV this year. Green is a major focus at panel debates, programme launches, awards and events.

The television industry’s role in addressing crucial questions on environmental change was brought across in a panel session, “Can Green be primetime TV?’ held on Tuesday, 17 April.

An example of a recent primetime environmental series is the BBC1’s “Climate Change: Britain Under Threat’ with Sir David Attenborough. It attracted 4.8 million viewers when it aired on a Sunday evening in January. (Viewers can catch the Attenborough world environmental series on BBC World which is one of the channels on DStv.)

Executive producer of the series, Phil Dolling, speaking on the panel said in the past two years, commissioning editors showed scant interest in global warming or the environment. But these issues are now considered to be of major importance to the world at large. He cautioned against an overdose of negative commentary on environmental research which could lead to a turn off for viewers.

Sundance has also taken up the green campaign for a better world, according to Lynne Kirby, senior VP Sundance and VP alternative programming. “Our partners, NBC, CBS and Robert Redford saw it as an opportunity to give us a distinctive presence.” Sundance is showcasing its three-hour weekly block “Sundance Green’ at the MIP market. While the theme of the block of programmes is environmental, Kirby says they are sensitive about forcing an environmental message on audiences.

Preaching to the converted or “issue fatigue’ has to be avoided according to the panellists. Executive producer Barrie Osborne who is involved in “Oceans: Engines of our Planet’, stressed that audiences needed to be drawn into issues by good storytelling. He pointed out that unlike a drama in which one cast actors, a documentary required discovering the best people to present and they were usually researchers and scientists.

South Africans who went to see Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth’ will understand the impact a well researched and presented documentary can have. The panellists agreed that Gore’s documentary probably kick-started mass audience interest in the environmental debate.

“The success of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has meant that a lot of buyers are willing to do a theatrical release on films with environmental themes, which of course correspondingly raises the license fee,” said Justna Muench, acquisitions and sales executive at Germany’s Telepool which is representing “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash’.

MIPTV hosted the first Green World Award, which was presented to photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand at a gala dinner on Tuesday night at the Carlton Hotel. The green theme is further supported with a range of programmes which include the controversial documentary, “The Great Global Warming Scandal’ from RDF Media. And support has even come from Arnold Schwarzenegger who appears on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” to promote biofuel alternatives to petrol.


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