Environmental issues perfect for primetime

CANNES — More broadcasters are greenlighting environmental shows for primetime. That’s the picture that emerged Monday at the Mip TV panel “Can Green TV Be Primetime TV?,” where a number of broadcasters and producers presented wares and debated the topic.

In the U.K. alone, three environmental shows have aired in primetime in the past month, per Ade Thomas, managing director of British broadband channel Green.tv, which is in expansion mode, adding German- and Japanese-language versions to its English-language site.

“It’s the most important problem facing humanity today,” Thomas said.

But it’s not just niche channels getting in the act. The BBC’s Phil Dolling and the Sundance Channel’s Lynne Kirby both presented new programs in this growing genre. “The Green” and “Big Ideas for a Small Planet” are both lined up for primetime slots on Sundance Channel.

” ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ had a massive impact,” Kirby said. “We aspire to having a similar effect from a television point of view.”

The BBC has recruited Richard Attenborough for a series on climate changes. Other shows include “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” about a family trying to lead an eco-friendly existence.

“It’s important to move from an awareness to an action stage,” Dolling said. “People are very confused about what they should do. ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ is a good way to start.”

Belgium has gone one step further, as per Sultan Sushi’s Johan Tuyaerts, taking the environment into the reality-show arena, with one program featuring a family running a four-star restaurant from home on limited energy supplies.

And kids, too, are in for some of the same. DIC Entertainment’s Robby London — who laid claim to creating the world’s first (environmentally) green superhero with “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” back in the late 1980s — has moved on to dinosaurs with planet-friendly messages in “I Was a High School Dinosaur.”

London also is planning to air tips for kids at the end of other programs showing how they can help the environment. “If the media can make Paris Hilton cool, then it has the potential to do it for green,” he said.

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