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Beyond Ratings or Quality. Surpassing the Dilemma of Entertainment in Public Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  14 would clarify to program makers what the context of their program is: what is the program info, what is on the other channel, what do viewers watch prior to the program, what kind of viewers are we talking about. From experience we know that viewers of such and such program have this profile . . . So if you want to reach youngsters with a certain program, while the preceding program has an audience with an average age of eighty, it is obvious it will not work. Sometimes program makers find such reasoning annoying, for it limits their freedom. The artist vocabulary In many ways, the marketing vocabulary contrasts with the artist vocabulary. Almost all program makers were proficient in the artist vocabulary. In this language, quality counts as something unusual, while making visible the special aesthetic qualities of a program (script, editing, location, imaginative power) is deemed important: Interviewer: But you touched on Mevrouw de Minister [mini-series], do you think it has quality? Program adviser: Sure, it is extremely well done. It has a good script, it has good acting, and especially its location is exploited in a very exciting way. And indeed, I love idiosyncratic editing. It is wonderful. I also favor imaginative power, a suggested by dissolves and close-ups. Yes, I find that great, as well as dramatically convincing in an uncommon way. Program makers who rely on an artist vocabulary did not reserve quality for specific genres or program categories. However, they signaled that quality is less often found in popular genres. Consider the following dialogue between two program makers: A: It is rare in radio and television that you come near people’s most inner needs. This happens more often in literature. B: Is that true? I do not entirely agree with you. I find that you can also be deeply touched by a good dramatic story or a powerful scene in Sonja’s talkshow. A: But this is only true of very few moments, especially when considering the many hours you have to watch. B: Sure, but so much is broadcasted these days that the good moments increase accordingly. A: Still I feel there have been only three or four moments of which I can say: yes, they were totally right and I can still remember them. From so many hundreds if not thousands of hours, I can still feel that one, perfect moment when everything turned out well – the moment on which I would have written a top novel . . . Manager: Top quality is rare in general, in everything, in books, and also in disaster journalism. In the artist vocabulary, quality was closely associated with the maker of the program and his or her reputation. The role of program makers is seen as comparable to authors of literature or directors of movies. This reasoning is in part based on the assumption that past creative accomplishments more or less guarantee the quality of

Authors: Meijer, Irene.
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14
would clarify to program makers what the context of their program
is: what is the program info, what is on the other channel, what do
viewers watch prior to the program, what kind of viewers are we
talking about. From experience we know that viewers of such and
such program have this profile . . . So if you want to reach
youngsters with a certain program, while the preceding program has
an audience with an average age of eighty, it is obvious it will not
work. Sometimes program makers find such reasoning annoying,
for it limits their freedom.
The artist vocabulary
In many ways, the marketing vocabulary contrasts with the artist vocabulary. Almost
all program makers were proficient in the artist vocabulary. In this language, quality
counts as something unusual, while making visible the special aesthetic qualities of a
program (script, editing, location, imaginative power) is deemed important:
Interviewer: But you touched on Mevrouw de Minister [mini-series],
do you think it has quality?
Program adviser: Sure, it is extremely well done. It has a good
script, it has good acting, and especially its location is exploited in a
very exciting way. And indeed, I love idiosyncratic editing. It is
wonderful. I also favor imaginative power, a suggested by dissolves
and close-ups. Yes, I find that great, as well as dramatically
convincing in an uncommon way.
Program makers who rely on an artist vocabulary did not reserve quality for
specific genres or program categories. However, they signaled that quality is less
often found in popular genres. Consider the following dialogue between two program
makers:
A: It is rare in radio and television that you come near people’s most
inner needs. This happens more often in literature.
B: Is that true? I do not entirely agree with you. I find that you can
also be deeply touched by a good dramatic story or a powerful
scene in Sonja’s talkshow.
A: But this is only true of very few moments, especially when
considering the many hours you have to watch.
B: Sure, but so much is broadcasted these days that the good
moments increase accordingly.
A: Still I feel there have been only three or four moments of which I
can say: yes, they were totally right and I can still remember them.
From so many hundreds if not thousands of hours, I can still feel
that one, perfect moment when everything turned out well – the
moment on which I would have written a top novel . . .
Manager: Top quality is rare in general, in everything, in books, and
also in disaster journalism.
In the artist vocabulary, quality was closely associated with the maker of the program
and his or her reputation. The role of program makers is seen as comparable to
authors of literature or directors of movies. This reasoning is in part based on the
assumption that past creative accomplishments more or less guarantee the quality of


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