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Beyond Ratings or Quality. Surpassing the Dilemma of Entertainment in Public Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  17 may leave viewers indifferently, but questions like ‘what is the capital of Australia?’ give viewers a sense that they should know the answer. The following dialogue with an independent producer is illustrative: - producer: You have the well-known question, ‘what is the name of the Brazilian female maybug?’ You don’t know it and when I give it to you, you think ‘big deal’. Obviously, this is no fun. But when I would ask you, ‘what is the capital of Australia?’ -interviewer: You think: I should have known; it is important. -producer: Exactly, but probably you don’t know it. And you do not dare to say so. Or? -interviewer: Sidney, Melbourne? -producer: No, not Sidney, no, nor is on the coast . . . very good hahaha . . . Canberra. -interviewer: My goodness, yes, Canberra, but okay, that feeling … -producer: That is a nice question, isn’t it. ‘Triviant’ is based entirely on this feeling, this "oh-shit-I-should-have-known" feeling. Actually, we wanted to name it the ‘oh-shit-quiz’, but this was of course impossible. The teacher vocabulary does far more than recognize the educational potential of school television or strictly informative programs. Viewers may also be informed about everyday dilemma’s and the good life in light drama, game shows, and service programs, if these formats are not more useful to achieve that very objective (Tulloch, 1990). According to Cooper-Chen (1994), good TV game shows teach us that sincerity and honesty are at the basis of our existence. Moreover, viewers tend to enjoy being a kid for a little while. Light drama is particularly suitable for opening up discussion about everyday lifestyles, values, and norms. As one head of drama told us: This makes Rozengeur en Wodka Lime [cf. Sex and the city] so special . . . It is put together much like candlelight romance. Nevertheless it contains all kinds of moments that encourage you to reflect on how your own relationship is functioning, even though the program’s plot is presented in a hyperbolic or almost parodic way. The ethic quality of programs can easily be demonstrated on the basis of the teacher vocabulary. If a program succeeds in widening or deepening the audience’s imagination, it contributes, according to philosopher Martha Nussbaum (1997), to the formation of an individual’s moral aptitude, including the skill to consider things from someone else’s perspective: ‘Narrative imagination develops compassion, and compassion is essential for civic responsibility.’ As one independent producer told: Stories should somehow always reflect society, as well as the new society, because otherwise they are not interesting. Let me give you an example: When in Westenwind [weekly series about two port barons and their problems at home and at work] Pierre ran off with his secretary, this was a fairly old-fashioned storyline. But it turned out his secretary was a man, Felix. We said, ok, he is having his coming out, and what’s next? And then I said, let’s not do it, and for

Authors: Meijer, Irene.
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17
may leave viewers indifferently, but questions like ‘what is the capital of Australia?’
give viewers a sense that they should know the answer. The following dialogue with
an independent producer is illustrative:
- producer: You have the well-known question, ‘what is the name of
the Brazilian female maybug?’ You don’t know it and when I give it
to you, you think ‘big deal’. Obviously, this is no fun. But when I
would ask you, ‘what is the capital of Australia?’
-interviewer: You think: I should have known; it is important.
-producer: Exactly, but probably you don’t know it. And you do not
dare to say so. Or?
-interviewer: Sidney, Melbourne?
-producer: No, not Sidney, no, nor is on the coast . . . very good
hahaha . . . Canberra.
-interviewer: My goodness, yes, Canberra, but okay, that feeling …
-producer: That is a nice question, isn’t it. ‘Triviant’ is based entirely
on this feeling, this "oh-shit-I-should-have-known" feeling. Actually,
we wanted to name it the ‘oh-shit-quiz’, but this was of course
impossible.
The teacher vocabulary does far more than recognize the educational potential of
school television or strictly informative programs. Viewers may also be informed
about everyday dilemma’s and the good life in light drama, game shows, and service
programs, if these formats are not more useful to achieve that very objective
(Tulloch, 1990). According to Cooper-Chen (1994), good TV game shows teach us
that sincerity and honesty are at the basis of our existence. Moreover, viewers tend
to enjoy being a kid for a little while. Light drama is particularly suitable for opening
up discussion about everyday lifestyles, values, and norms. As one head of drama
told us:
This makes Rozengeur en Wodka Lime [cf. Sex and the city] so
special . . . It is put together much like candlelight romance.
Nevertheless it contains all kinds of moments that encourage you to
reflect on how your own relationship is functioning, even though the
program’s plot is presented in a hyperbolic or almost parodic way.
The ethic quality of programs can easily be demonstrated on the basis of the
teacher vocabulary. If a program succeeds in widening or deepening the audience’s
imagination, it contributes, according to philosopher Martha Nussbaum (1997), to the
formation of an individual’s moral aptitude, including the skill to consider things from
someone else’s perspective: ‘Narrative imagination develops compassion, and
compassion is essential for civic responsibility.’ As one independent producer told:
Stories should somehow always reflect society, as well as the new
society, because otherwise they are not interesting. Let me give you
an example: When in Westenwind [weekly series about two port
barons and their problems at home and at work] Pierre ran off with
his secretary, this was a fairly old-fashioned storyline. But it turned
out his secretary was a man, Felix. We said, ok, he is having his
coming out, and what’s next? And then I said, let’s not do it, and for


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