Switching gears on reality pick-ups

Territory report: Switzerland

ZURICH — Reality strikes back.

Early this year DRS program director Peter Schellenberg said he would not add reality programs to his channel.

Then in March, SRG chief exec Armin Walpen made clear that “Switzerland does not need reality shows.”

But times have changed and reality is about to wash over the Alps.

DRS has begun casting “MusicStar,” a reality skein similar to “American Idol.” The rights were acquired from Austrian pubcaster ORF, which had just finished its first round of “Starmania,” a show similar to the German “SuperStar,” the French “Star Academy” and the Spanish “Operacion Triunfo.”

Swiss auds will soon be able to choose from among a second round of “SuperStar” on German private web RTL, ORF’s relaunch of “Starmania” and yet another talent show that German private channel Sat 1 has successfully run since July.

RTL, with a market share in Switzerland of 13%, and Sat 1 (12%) are the closest rivals of SF DRS with its 45% market share.

TSR and TSI have equally strong competitors from neighboring France and Italy, where reality formats are likewise still important.

TSR and TSI are mulling the production of their own reality shows.

Times have not become easier for SRG, which is divided into the three linguistic territories: DRS for German-speaking Switzerland, TSR for French-speaking Switzerland and TSI for the Italian-speaking sector.

SRG’s budget had to be trimmed up to 5% in the last two years due to heavy losses in advertising revenue and cuts in subsidies.

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