Local series dominate, leaving little room for else

Territory report: Czech Republic

PRAGUE — After nearly 10 years of commercial TV and a gluttony of U.S. programs, Czech audiences are looking homeward for the old staples: local shows with local stars.

That leaves buyers and programmers in a bind.

“The audiences are becoming more demanding,” says one programmer. Channels could throw on almost any American series five years ago or a new German skein two years ago and it would fare well.

Now local programs dominate the competition.

Pubcaster Czech TV’s biggest advantage is its archive of local series. A rerun of a decades-old favorite CTV skein outperforms almost anything else, even when purchased and shown by one of its rivals.

That could give an advantage to TV Prague, the capital city’s new metropolitan channel, led by managing director Martin Havlicek. Havlicek, praised by colleagues and competitors alike, came up through the ranks of HBO, sister channel Prima, and TV Prague’s predecessor, TV3.

“We think the other stations don’t provide sufficient space for local issues,” he says. “We’re in a different situation. We’re quite specific.”

With a potential reach of 15% of TV households, TV Prague is looking to expand its reach. The station is working on local magazine formats to establish its identity.

On the reality front, such fare is already disappearing from schedules.

“We’re not buying reality,” says CTV head of acquisition Jan Rubes. “It doesn’t work here.” Instead, CTV is giving a big launch to its documentary series “Czech Himalayan Adventure.”

Some of the titles exciting buyers are “Monk,” “CSI” and “24.”

Expect to see buyers clamoring for quality Euro product to fill quota demands on the five terrestrial stations. New and archived local programs just won’t stretch that far.

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