Monday, October 22, 2007

Het Gesprek: conversation or interview

On October 2, 2007 the crossmedia television channel Het Gesprek (The Conversation) was launched in the Netherlands. It advertised itself as the first channel worldwide with 24/7 interviews. The channel presents 24/7 interviews with Dutch VIPs on internet and from 19-24h on television channels. Quality, content and current affairs are the hallmarks of the new channel. It is an initiative of a group of Dutch television makers.

The idea for the channel was born out of dissatisfaction with the current interview practice on the Dutch television. Guests are invited for a talk show and get a few minutes to deliver oneliners, but they can hardly argue their cases or show other interesting aspects and are regularly interrupted by commercials. In the Dutch television scene there is only one television program Summer Guests by the Dutch broadcasting company VPRO. For this program the guest can browse the broadcast archives, propose their items and can freely talk. But this program is only broadcasted during summertime.

Het Gesprek is stimulating discussions in the public space. Het Gesprek takes time to interview guests coming from politics, art, literature, culture, sports, science and business. They are interviewed by experienced interviewers. Het Gesprek will offer daily four new interviews. On the website the viewers/users can access all the interviews, summaries, remarkable and prominent guests.

The format of the channel consists of: a home page, a program guide, the programs, opinion from the viewers and CVs of the guest which have been invited and the presenters. Of course the most charming feature of the web channel is the fact that you can view the programs at a later time than the real interview. In this way I could look at the broadcast about Picnic 07 in Amsterdam.

The TV channel has not started with a bang. In fact the weekly viewing figures have been too small to measure. Nationally, an average of just 2000 people was measured in the first week, a figure which has dwindled to 1000 viewers/users last week.
Will the channel improve in viewing figures? I have my doubts. Despite the fact that the channel was set up with venture money, it has hardly advertised itself (probably this was smart in the first weeks as the whole operation had to move shop). But I think that there is another problem. The channel is television projected on internet with an added archive function. It misses the social network features; in this way it is also like broadcasting. The internet users are basically back into their old role of almost passive viewers. There is no room for a phone-in and they even do not have the chance to put merit stars to the programs. The internet users will have to get involved in a different way than just sending a reaction in the section opinion; this looks like the old, tradition newspaper and broadcast tolerance. It should create its own community with members from LinkedIn, Xing or Hyves.
The channel’s name Het Gesprek has been translated in English to The Conversation. As it stands now Het Gesprek could be better translated to The Interview.

Blog Posting Number: 992

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