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Beyond Ratings or Quality. Surpassing the Dilemma of Entertainment in Public Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  15 future work and that the content of a program already suggests that a passionate and committed maker is behind it. Exceptional quality usually requires the ‘expert gaze’. Only other artists and program makers can really recognize quality as such. The ultimate honor, therefore, is not winning a public award, but an award based on recognition from peers, like the Nipkowschijf or the Emmy Award (Albers, 1996; Blumler et al, 1986). Similarly, innovation and experimentation are main concepts in the artist vocabulary. If a program actively engages with genre conventions or if in a self-conscious manner it reflects a questioning and relativist stance regarding reality, it is seen as artistically distinctive. From an artistic point of view the use of postmodern stylistic conventions like irony and parody in light drama and comedy, but also in game shows can be truly enjoyed. Programs like Goodness, Gracious Me (BBC), or Weakest Link (BBC, RTL- 4) aim to undermine viewer’s expectations and may address as much the citizen as the enjoyer precisely for that reason (cf. Hutcheon, 1989). The artisan vocabulary Besides the artistic vocabulary, the artisan vocabulary was much used by program makers, but less often recognized as a quality language. This language was deployed for expressing appreciation for programs that are well made but not necessarily exceptional. In artisan language a program’s basic quality is articulated, for instance, because of its production value or its functional quality, meaning that it does what it was designed to do for the intended viewers (VRT, 2001). If a program is meant to address viewers as citizens (a public mission), within the artisan logic, program makers take issues like ethnicity, age, gender, and sexual preference into consideration when they invite guests, cast actors, or choose a host. If a program is meant to give pleasure as well, nearly all program makers mentioned the narrative aspect of artisan quality as an essential quality of a program. Regardless of whether a service program, light drama, or a game show is involved, it needs to have an interesting narrative layer. Quality is found in all the various details of a program, many of which may even be hardly noticed by the audience (except when they are absent). The inventor of Lingo, a word game show, told us how much attention had been devoted to the brief tune that each time accompanies the moment when participants put down the letters: We were strongly convinced that [the short melody] was significant, even crucial. For it underlined the moment of tension, the exact moment of: do we have the right word or not? And this is a moment you want to capitalize on. At the first day of shooting, after having

Authors: Meijer, Irene.
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future work and that the content of a program already suggests that a passionate and
committed maker is behind it.
Exceptional quality usually requires the ‘expert gaze’. Only other artists and
program makers can really recognize quality as such. The ultimate honor, therefore,
is not winning a public award, but an award based on recognition from peers, like the
Nipkowschijf or the Emmy Award (Albers, 1996; Blumler et al, 1986). Similarly,
innovation and experimentation are main concepts in the artist vocabulary. If a
program actively engages with genre conventions or if in a self-conscious manner it
reflects a questioning and relativist stance regarding reality, it is seen as artistically
distinctive. From an artistic point of view the use of postmodern stylistic conventions
like irony and parody in light drama and comedy, but also in game shows can be truly
enjoyed. Programs like Goodness, Gracious Me (BBC), or Weakest Link (BBC, RTL-
4) aim to undermine viewer’s expectations and may address as much the citizen as
the enjoyer precisely for that reason (cf. Hutcheon, 1989).
The artisan vocabulary
Besides the artistic vocabulary, the artisan vocabulary was much used by program
makers, but less often recognized as a quality language. This language was
deployed for expressing appreciation for programs that are well made but not
necessarily exceptional. In artisan language a program’s basic quality is articulated,
for instance, because of its production value or its functional quality, meaning that it
does what it was designed to do for the intended viewers (VRT, 2001). If a program
is meant to address viewers as citizens (a public mission), within the artisan logic,
program makers take issues like ethnicity, age, gender, and sexual preference into
consideration when they invite guests, cast actors, or choose a host. If a program is
meant to give pleasure as well, nearly all program makers mentioned the narrative
aspect of artisan quality as an essential quality of a program. Regardless of whether
a service program, light drama, or a game show is involved, it needs to have an
interesting narrative layer.
Quality is found in all the various details of a program, many of which may
even be hardly noticed by the audience (except when they are absent). The inventor
of Lingo, a word game show, told us how much attention had been devoted to the
brief tune that each time accompanies the moment when participants put down the
letters:
We were strongly convinced that [the short melody] was significant,
even crucial. For it underlined the moment of tension, the exact
moment of: do we have the right word or not? And this is a moment
you want to capitalize on. At the first day of shooting, after having


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