Industry Report: Television
One Vision Série Series 2016: Tone C. Rønning
by Série Series
- Accountability in public service broadcasting
(© Sylvain Bardin & Philippe Cabaret)
Tone C. Rønning, would first like to thank the French for what they have brought Norwegians in terms of culture and starts with this amusing introduction : “I apologise again for the Vikings raping and robbing you a thousand years ago, but I also want to thank you for having contributed to our education. The first Norwegian student was at the Sorbonne in 1249”. So it is only right that today, Norway produces quality drama that its European neighbours benefit from, including the people of Fontainebleau.
Tone C. Rønning is very conscious of the responsibility she has as a producer of drama and international co-productions at NRK. She has noticed that the gaps in society are increasing and statistics show this is the same across Europe. Every day, at work, she is aware that one of her most important roles is to empower and support democracy; since our democracies are fragile and nothing can be taken for granted. The fundamental task in public service media is to be of value to society.
Content should be for the common good and should address all levels of society, from all over the country, gathering the public around a generous common arena. Surveys show that 73 % of NRK’s licence paying viewers feel they get good value for money and 81 % feel NRK is innovative. It’s good, but that is not enough! Today our society is much more diverse and we need to bridge the gaps that separate us, be they class, generation, culture or religion. NRK has more success with the younger public when content is tailor-made, like with Shame, for example. Everyone should have a voice. Audiovisual productions are a good platform for this and should be developed in consequence. In order to encompass this diversity, directors and actors with multicultural expertise need to be used, but they are difficult to find, since there is a lack of education for this in media training. As a result, NRK has taken the decision to employ a greater number of employees with competence in diversity.
Tone C. Rønning summarises the main objectives of public service broadcasters’ strategy:
• To better know and understand one’s audience
• To increase engagement and diversity through new strategies and ways of communicating
• To have the correct priorities in the choice of portfolio
• To be the most relevant and trusted source of information
• To be more relevant for younger audiences
• To empower, curate and share
• To accelerate innovation and development
• To ensure prominence
• To transform organisational and leadership methods
• To adapt to emerging new content, as public services are subject to changing views on the relationships between governments, markets and society
We cannot count solely on politicians and elections to create the Europe that we are all hoping for. Of course, government support is required in the audiovisual sector, but beyond that, the public must be capable of proclaiming their independence loud and strong, of asking questions and of destabilisation. Everyone living in a democracy must take part in it and a public is responsible for asking for and welcoming quality content. Tone C. Rønning talks of an upward spiral in which we must accept and defend the idea of shared responsibility. She invites everyone to take part in the debate and to create platforms for exchange along the lines of Série Series.
NRK wants to make a difference and does not hesitate to offer programmes that involve a clash of cultures like the Lilyhammer series which won over a wide audience. The public wants not only to be entertained, but also to have content that makes them think, to get them out of their comfort zones, to revise their viewpoints and beliefs. This is what working for the public service requires. This autumn, for example, we will be airing Nobel, a drama about a Norwegian soldier who returns from Afghanistan, bringing the war with him. As a peace loving nation, we do not want to deal with the fact that we are sending soldiers into conflict. This new series meets the need to make committed and responsible drama. It is close to journalism or a documentary, but is able to go deeper into the subject, precisely because it is drama. Yet too many broadcasters are afraid of this type of content.
In conclusion, Tone C. Rønning says the core values at NRK are to be open, brave and trustworthy. One must be open to difference, support authors and creators’ original ideas and be brave enough to take risks. Heads of broadcasting networks like NRK need to be committed body and soul to bringing together and strengthening the national community around common and democratic values. Tone C. Rønning is not afraid to talk of the importance of creating a feeling of belonging, of national identity, but one that is open and diverse. A public service broadcaster is like a nation’s glue and this must not be forgotten under any circumstances.
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