CCTV buys 65 hours of na­ture tele­vi­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By LIU WEI liuw@chi­

China’s CCTV has struck a deal with BBC World­wide, to buy the largest pack­age of nat­u­ral his­tory pro­gram­ming that the State broad­caster has ac­quired this year.

CCTV has bought 65 hours of BBC pro­grams, as an­nounced at the third an­nual China Show­case of BBC World­wide, held re­cently in Bei­jing. The price paid for the pro­grams was not an­nounced.

The deal in­volves fac­tual pro­grams, with nat­u­ral his­tory mak­ing up the bulk of the pack­age.

Ti­tles in­clude At­ten­bor­ough’s Ark, fea­tur­ing se­nior UK nat­u­ral­ist and broad­caster David At­ten­bor­ough’s ex­plo­ration of 10 lit­tle-known en­dan­gered an­i­mals, and Pen­guins — Spy in the Hud­dle, which uses pho­tograph­ing equip­ment dis­guised as pen­guins to cap­ture their vivid life.

But CCTV has not de­cided on the spe­cific broad­cast­ing time for the ma­te­rial.

“We have a long his­tory with the BBC, and have col­lab­o­rated with them for many years now,” says Liu Wen, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, CCTV Doc­u­men­tary Chan­nel.

“In the years that we have worked to­gether, we have seen in­ter­est in doc­u­men­taries in­crease among our Chi­nese view­ers. BBC’s fac­tual pro­grams are es­pe­cially pop­u­lar among Chi­nese au­di­ences.”

Pierre Che­ung, VP and GM of BBC World­wide, Greater China, agrees.

“This deal gives Chi­nese view­ers even more ac­cess to award-win­ning qual­ity nat­u­ral his­tory pro­gram­ming from the BBC’s Nat­u­ral His­tory Unit, as well as ac­cess to top qual­ity pro­grams from other gen­res.”

One of the most suc­cess­ful co-pro­duced projects be­tween the two broad­cast­ers is Wild China, a six-part doc­u­men­tary that has been very well-re­ceived among China’s doc­u­men­tary and wild an­i­mal lovers af­ter be­ing aired on CCTV in 2011.

Ac­cord­ing to Neil Nightingale, creative di­rec­tor of BBC Earth, one of BBC World­wide’s ma­jor brands launched in 2009 to mar­ket and dis­trib­ute the BBC’s nat­u­ral his­tory con­tent out­side UK, the film was an “in­ti­mate co­op­er­a­tion”.

“Half of the pro­duc­tion team were from CCTV,” he says. “We have much ex­pe­ri­ence in wild an­i­mal pro­duc­tion, and CCTV has much pro­duc­tion ex­per­tise in film­ing in China. They got us into some of the most re­mote ar­eas in China at the right time.”

It was the CCTV team who went to the re­serves with gi­ant panda re­searchers be­fore the episode was made. With their rec­om­men­da­tion the film suc­cess­fully cap­tured the court­ing and mat­ing ac­tiv­ity of gi­ant pan­das, the first time the com­plete process has been filmed in the wild.

The doc­u­men­tary won three awards at the Em­mys in 2009 —Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment in a Craft: Cin­e­matog­ra­phy in Na­ture Doc­u­men­taries cat­e­gory, Out­stand­ing Edit­ing and Out­stand­ing Mu­sic and Sound.

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of Wild China, the two broad­cast­ers are now work­ing to­gether on Hid­den King­dom, fea­tur­ing the nat­u­ral world’s most fas­ci­nat­ing diminu­tive char­ac­ters from chip­munks in North Amer­ica to gi­ant rhi­noc­eros bee­tles in Tokyo. In both 2-D and 3-D ver­sions, the show looks at the chal­lenges faced by the nat­u­ral world’s mini heroes.

The 3-D ver­sion of the doc­u­men­tary mainly tar­gets gi­ant screens in science cen­ters and mu­se­ums in China, says Nightingale, but in view of the pop­u­lar­ity of doc­u­men­taries in reg­u­lar cinemas in many coun­tries such as Ger­many and Ja­pan, he is op­ti­mistic about its prospects in cinemas in China.

“The ef­fect of be­ing in the wild in 3-D on big screens can be very im­mer­sive,” he says. “Now in China view­ers may tend to watch fea­ture films such as Avatar and Ti­tanic 3-D on gi­ant screens, but if we do in­ven­tive mar­ket­ing, we will see them form the habit of watch­ing doc­u­men­taries in cinemas.”


A scene from BBC’s nat­u­ral his­tory pro­gram Pen­guins — Spy in the Hud­dle.

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