2017-06-18 15:09:40[UPDATES]

Innovation thrivesin new TV variety shows,forum told

 

Dong Qing, producer of “The Reader,” explained the genesis of the successful show during the forum at the Chinese Television Independent Innovation Summit. 

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By Liza Li(Shanghai Daily)

 

The growing success of program format innovation in China's TV industry since 2016 was highlighted yesterday at a Shanghai TV Festival forum.

The popularity of programs such as “The Reader,” “Letters Alive” and “Poetry Hero” were cited as examples of breakthrough new variety shows that achieved remarkable results in both content originality and public reception.

The Cultural Heritage and Modern Innovation Forum heard how innovative new shows were devised as the Chinese industry tried to break away from broadcasting shows based on expensive overseas program formats that also came with copyright disputes.

As an example, CCTV’s original variety show “The Reader”has created an unprecedented craze in China since the first season premiered in February this year. The independently-developed cultural program invites people to read the texts of their own stories on camera, thus sharing the emotion of their experiences with the audience.

Dong Qing, producer of “The Reader,” explained the genesis of the successful show during the forum at the Chinese Television Independent Innovation Summit.

“‘The Reader’ is an original variety show with no examples to borrow from,” Dong said. “In the beginning, we invited foreign experts from different fields, including program format specialists, to join the many discussions. ”

"Then we decided that reading on television is not the same as reading in the theatre, and the key to engaging the largest audience is to connect the reader’s personal emotions with the writer’s opinions and the audience's understanding," said Dong.

In the boundless ocean of literature, finding the texts to feature on the show was about finding the most suitable one, Dong added.  He said there was no limit in terms of theme, subject and genre. But each episode in the first season had a keyword, such as encounter or youth, and the texts chosen were guided by the guest readers own experience.
 
“The texts are there," Dong said with confidence. "The cultural heritage of a country is also the heritage of its texts and writings and, as a state media, it would be regrettable if CCTV ignored the art, philosophy and spiritual worlds depicted in the articles," she added.

In June 2016, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of China (SARFT) issued new policies to promote independent innovation in the Chinese media.

Key terms such as "indigenous innovation," "full intellectual property rights," "joint research and development," and "format management” have become trendy at industry watch words.

Excellent variety shows such as “The Reader,” “Chinese Classical Poems Quiz Show” and “Poetry Hero” have also encouraged more Chinese to pick up cultural heritage themes and traditional values in an era dominated by the internet and smartphone.

“Letters Alive,” an original new show from Heilongjiang TV, invites celebrities to read letters as a means of delving into history through emotional life stories.

Yang Jing, president and editor-in-chief of Heilongjiang Broadcasting Station, said the show was inspired by the desire to return to the educational and cultural aspects of TV programs and offer something different to excessive entertainment.

“We hope every letter, no matter how ancient it is, can encourage audiences to think beyond history and reflect on the present. The show also expresses confidence in culture and guiding values,” Yang noted.

With the aim to inherit, innovate and inspire, Dragon TV’s “Poetry Hero” has set new ratings records for provincial satellite TV programs. People born in the 1980s are the main viewing group and more than half of them are college educated.

Li Yi, managing director of the Shanghai Media Group channel, defined the show as a party for Chinese poetry lovers.

To achieve the goal of introducing poetry to ordinary Chinese families, “Poetry Hero” has borrowed from the classic Chinese folk game 'floating wine cups along winding water' (qu shui liu shang),  to create a new game format. The competing families are seated along the “river” to be randomly selected for the game by a “wine glass.”

“We had two starting points when creating ‘Poetry Hero’,” Li said. "That it should demonstrate the breadth and depth of traditional Chinese culture and encourage maximum participation from common viewers.”