Experts discuss how to get broader entertainment in the smartphone era, and better use of content to convey the right values.
By Liza Li(Shanghai Daily)
In the smartphone era where access is easier to a broader range of entertainment, making better use of the content to convey the right values is the hottest topic in the Chinese television industry, the ongoing 23rd Shanghai TV Festival heard yesterday.
The STV Forum looking into how web-based variety shows deliver positive values heard producers of some of the hottest shows in China discussing the in-depth values and goals of the entertainment business.
Guan Zhengwen, the chairman and founder of Beijing Share Television-Media Cultural Development, explained that from a content producer’s perspective, making variety shows has changed dramatically with the shift in platforms from traditional television to the Internet. Mr. Guan's company produces the "Letters Alive" series with Heilongjiang TV.
“More than 70 percent of variety show audiences in China now access content online so producers rely on audiences coming to them willingly, which is more challenging,” Guan said. “Creating traditional television and web-based programs are completely different experiences. The audience's participation and feedback is much more alive on the internet, and it’s actually more fulfilling for us.”
The Forum heard that variety shows featuring celebrities and amusing characters are loved by the young generation who enjoy the sarcasm in shows like “U Can U Bibi” and “Roast.” The producers, on the other hand, are not only seeking to create eye-catching content, but also express values that are evolving over time.
Judith Mu, co-founder and CCO of MEWE Media that produces web variety show “U Can U Bibi,” said the show selects hot topics and gives voice in debate to people's different opinions. They seldom discuss right or wrong, but present the core values of diversity and inclusion.
“We don’t usually pre-judge whether a value is problematic," Ms. Mu said. "I have been struck by some of the opinions we heard while making the show. One of reasons for doing the program is to show that something you’ve considered right for a very long time may not be so in another person’s view,” she added.
“We’ve encountered problems when we had too much fun and realized that we shouldn’t be testing the boundaries, but drawing a smaller circle within which we give more tolerance.”
When looking back at the first season, she found it was too self-centered.
“As we grow older, we learn that no matter how cool and crazy we were as teenagers, we cannot escape the discussion of our relationship with society and with other people. Our show didn’t become more down-to-earth, but it presented new perspectives and we are constantly looking for ways to improve it.”
Evan Shang, a producer at Tencent Penguin Pictures' Tianxiang Studio, talked about its hit variety show “Roast” which involves celebrities being on the receiving end of other people’s opinions about them.
“The show also provides time for a celebrity to face up to his or her weaknesses and gets the opportunity to respond. The celebrities are quite positive about this,” Shang said. “We've changed the nature of complaining so people don’t have such a strong sense of being attacked. We want audiences to understand that it’s just a game.”
Mr. Guan, however, disagreed and said “Roast” had offered an excellent way to perceive celebrities and other people. “You must recognize, it’s actually very charming,” he said.
Woody Wang, deputy general manager and producer of Vision Media which produces popular dating show “You Are the One” on Jiangsu Satellite TV, said the program offers a platform for young men and women to express themselves.
“You can see the current situations of young Chinese people through the show," he said. "We have been doing the same things for seven years but the audience has changed. Now the younger generation has more dating methods available so the changes we made this year make the show more appealing to those who seek love through matchmaking.”