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Input asks how to make television that is popular and intelligent

Input is over for another year. The latest conference was held in Lugano from May 6 to 12 and the hosts were our colleagues from Swiss public TV. Input, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, welcomed delegates from 60 countries.

“Input is neither polite nor politically correct,” noted Input president Noemi Schory. “We question and challenge the programs, the filmmakers, the decision-makers and the whole milieu of broadcasting.”

Input is unique in the sense that producers and their work are at the centre of the conference. All delegates therefore have privileged access to the professionals invited to the conference, who are also their colleagues from around the world. Nearly 100 programs in a variety of genres (documentary, drama, fiction, interactive, variety, animation, reality) were presented during the six thematic sessions that took place daily.

It was a big year for fiction and drama, reflecting perhaps the thrust of global production in 2006. One thing’s for sure, the conference provides an annual overview of the latest programming being produced and aired by public broadcasters on every continent. Several questions were raised: how do we make television that is popular and intelligent? How do we attract new audiences while maintaining the ones we have? How do we produce original and quality programming on dwindling budgets? What are our responsibilities as public broadcasters?

I saw some absolutely fascinating shows at this year’s Input, ideas that are totally applicable to what we do here in regional television. I saw some great shows made with lots of imagination and very small budgets. These are examples to follow! Here are my top five, which we will certainly present at the Post-Input in Ottawa: To the other side (Mexico, documentary), Girl in the mirror (Australia, documentary), Blowing word (Spain, series), Souvenirs (Israel, documentary), Shadya (documentary, US).

But I also saw some revolting reality shows where ethics and human values were cast aside by sensationalism and the boundless quest for ratings. These are examples not to follow… Of course, there is something for all tastes at Input and that always serves to renew what it is we do in television. It’s a perfect generator of ideas and energy and it always takes me back to my school days.

With everything I saw, there is certainly enough material to organize an excellent Post-Input in Ottawa in 2008. And I’ll be able to watch anything I missed from among the favourites of other Radio-Canada delegates at the Montreal Post-Input next October.

Thank you very, very much for helping me attend the conference.

Julie Huard is a producer in regional television at Radio-Canada in Ottawa and a member of the Canadian Media Guild. She won the CMG lottery for a grant to attend Input 2007.

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