Swiss try ‘Big Brother’ format

Struggling TV3 hopes to reach 12% aud share

ZURICH, Switzerland – “Big Brother” could save the day for struggling netlet TV3, the first private station in Switzerland.

The local format calls for five men and five women to live in a specially built container near Zurich for 100 days, closely watched by 60 microphones and 26 TV cameras. The last one to walk out on Dec. 17 pockets a check of 150,000 Swiss francs ($95,000).

Publicity, sponsorship and product placement should bring urgently needed cash into the coffers of the year-old station, which is owned by pan-Euro station group SBS.

TV3 CEO Jurg Wildberger hopes to reach a 12% audience share with the show. TV3 has been struggling with a 2.5% share.

“We have very positive signs from advertisers,” Wildberger says. “Nobody will talk about closing down TV3 anymore.”

“Big Brother Switzerland” is produced by B&B Endemol, a joint venture between Dutch producer and creator of the show Endemol and Swiss producer Bichsel & Burger Medien.

The new partners don’t want to talk about money, but the format reportedly costs up to $11 million, no less than a fourth of the annual program budget of TV3.

Execs say program acquisition needs won’t be affected by TV3’s concentration on reality.

“The need for series and films is as big as before. U.S. product is very important for us,” says Wildberger.

That goes for the other Swiss stations as well, including top-ranked DRS, with its 42% audience share.

“Mip and Mipcom are the most important meeting places for us,” says Isabell Hagemann, head of acquisitions at French-speaking TSR.

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