TV in Small Nations – Sustaining Talent, by Hywel Wiliam

The report was first published in the Royal Television Society’s website on 14 June 2016: 

‘Sustaining Talent’ was the theme of a two day workshop held on the 2nd and 3rd June in the Danish port of Aarhus, the country’s second city and the location of its Film Village, which houses over 60 production companies. It was the third workshop in a series exploring some of the challenges faced by the television industries of small nations, in a unique collaboration between the Universities of Aarhus and South Wales (USW), with contributions from Glasgow Caledonian University, Copenhagen University, the Irish Broadcaster, TG4, S4C and RTS Wales.

But what is meant by ‘talent’? All agreed that in TV, it is broadly based, taking in content creation, production, craft skills and commissioning, as well as on-screen performers and presenters. TG4’s Padhraic O Ciardha suggested that a broadcaster’s commissioners have to have their own talents, “they need vision and mentoring ability, they have to be tough but also engender trust”. S4C’s Llion Iwan emphasised the importance of diversity in recruiting and managing on-screen talent, “it makes the output more distinctive”.

Some of the participants had taken part in an RTS Wales event held last November, in conjunction with the first workshop held in Cardiff, which considered the international success of Nordic Noir, and the RTS’ own role in supporting new entrants, through RTS Futures and its bursaries, was also noted.

The Danes have tried to develop regional talent outside Copenhagen, where the country’s broadcasters are based, and comparisons were made with initiatives elsewhere such as Scotland’s Pacific Quay and Salford Media City. However the Danes’ first attempt at a new ‘regional’ series, Norskov, had poor ratings and was recently axed.

Ruth McElroy (USW), suggested that TV is vital for the cultural identity of small nations, referring to a quote by Peter Fincham on foreign travel, “you only have to turn on your hotel room TV to realise you are truly abroad”, adding that, “TV is one part local and one part global”.

Our Administrator, Hywel Wiliam, gave a short presentation about the RTS, emphasising our role in supporting new entrants, with such things as bursaries and RTS Futures events.

Pictured below outside Studie 1:
Gunhild Agger, Professor, Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University.
Steve Blandford, Emeritus Professor, University of South Wales and Founder of the TV in Small Nations unit at the University. Eva Novrup Redvall, Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies, Copenhagen University. (Eva took part in the first workshop and in our RTS Wales discussion event last November held in Cardiff).


Hywel Wiliam is member of the RTS Wales Centre Committee.

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