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No more ghost programs on TV: broadcasters want the audience back

The audience will not be able to sit so close together for the time being.

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Wobbly switching, insights into private apartments from contact persons – but no audience in the studio.

Corona has changed the production conditions for television.

But viewers shouldn’t get used to this new normality on the screens.

The major German television stations are arming themselves for a time after the strictest corona restrictions. RTL, for example, is developing a grandstand concept that guarantees the protection of the health of all employees and spectators in the studio. According to a spokeswoman, it stipulates, among other things, that only every second row and every second seat is occupied. And even though viewers in the main news programs may have gotten used to interviewing experts from their living room – sometimes with shaky broadcasting and a double chin perspective from their desks – all broadcasters want to go back to the pre-Corona technical standards . This was the result of a survey by the German press agency.

“We want to return to the usual quality as quickly as possible,” said a spokesman for the First German Television (ARD). However, the audience editorial staff heard very little protests about shaky pictures through connections via Skype, for example, because the viewers could certainly classify that this was not possible otherwise due to Corona. A spokeswoman for ProSiebenSat.1 emphasized: “We are a medium for HD or Ultra HD images.” Because of the restrictions caused by the corona pandemic, the flexibility has increased overall. Video switching, for example for time-critical transmissions, should therefore continue to supplement the toolbox in the future – but not replace expensive studio productions.

According to the spokeswoman, RTL also made use of video switching and conferences primarily in daily programs and new formats with a corona reference. “But it quickly became clear that viewers would rather want normality – and thus the usual technical standards – on TV.” Similarly, a ZDF spokesman said: “There is nothing wrong with this, even after the pandemic, guests go – and bring it back into the studio via a switch. ”This was also common in the past. “In the current frequency, the gears are a compromise that will be reduced in the corona-free time.”

For media scientist Herbert Schwaab from the University of Regensburg it is becoming clear what television really is: “Television is a live medium. It enables people to come together and connect to the world. ”In this respect, the lack of HD standards and bad pictures are not a big issue. “Lack of perfection is a sign that it is not just cinema,” said Schwaab. TV was primarily intended as a spontaneous listening medium with pictures.

Audiences and studio guests also played a role. “Certain studio formats need an audience,” said Schwaab. “They work differently without an audience.” Funny programs, for example, would become less funny. Discussions in talk shows, on the other hand, have become more substantive and constructive, if he does not rely on verbose or intermittent applause.

The broadcaster is also concerned with the topic: To minimize the travel activity of the guests of the evening talk formats and the teams in accordance with the legal requirements, switching is a solution, said the ARD spokesman. However, they could not replace the direct exchange of guests with each other. “Correspondingly, the Talk editors are also looking forward to the time when production can begin again under normal conditions.” Quiz shows, “Markus Lanz”, “Die Küchenschlacht”, “heute-show” and “Die Anstalt” ran without an audience. “The” TV garden “as a live show without an audience is a different kind of program and offers a different atmosphere than when 5,000 people watch and celebrate on site,” said the spokesman.

At other shows, those responsible decided that they would lose their core without an audience. “The music shows with Thomas Gottschalk, for example, are difficult to imagine without a singing audience in the hall.” These were therefore postponed to next year. Everywhere, the regulations depend on the requirements of the federal states in which the respective production location is located.

The ProSiebenSat.1 spokeswoman also emphasized that the enthusiasm and reaction of the audience on site is very important for many studio productions. “We want to present this to our viewers again in the future.” This is how RTL wants the studio audience to be there again – as soon as the grandstand concept has been released.

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