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Czech Republic: Reality formats hot but drama able to hold its own

PRAGUE — Though the TV market in the Czech Republic is undergoing a shakeup, programming has not yet been affected: Reality shows are hot, but locally produced family dramas and celeb talkshows are holding their own.

Of the country’s four terrestrials, TV Nova, acquired in December by Central European Media Enterprises (CME), remains the leader by far, with primetime market share reaching 45%. It is trailed by the other private station, Prima, and the two pubcasters of Czech TV.

Nova is scoring big with reality formats adapted for the local culture, illustrated by its hit sequel “Superstar II,” an “American Idol”-type talent search.

While Nova, like Prima, fills two-thirds of its programming with foreign content, with much of that American-made, it’s the local skeins that land consistently at the top. “Superstar” averaged a 50% market share, 2.6 million viewers, on Sundays at 8 p.m. — as impressive as it gets for a non-news or nonsports broadcast in a country of 12 million.

Foreign sellers have no cause for worry, though — offshore TV series and films will continue to dominate programming for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Prima stands by the original domestic drama formula with its internally produced “Family Ties” just signed for a second season. It has averaged a 47% market share and total auds of 2 million. Show reflects a strong demand for familiar cultural icons and issues.

“It’s a big investment but it’s proved to be a good one,” says Prima head of acquisitions Martin Havlicek, adding that the station is considering adding a second series in the genre.

The CME buyout of Nova is affecting the strategy of local acquisitions firm AQS, which was providing most of the content for Nova and Prima, and Slovak station Joj. AQS also picked up video and theatrical rights for films for those nets.

Speculation that AQS will be integrated into Nova while Prima begins to handle its own acquisitions are running rampant in Prague’s media circles.

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