TV series blossom in Slovakia

By Jana Kadlecova
    Slovakia is experiencing a boom in domestic TV series, with eight successful series being produced by the country's two commercial stations, Joj and Markiza.

    The success is one of several happening in Slovakia's media sector in 2009: high admissions for Slovak films, an increase in film production, a new Audiovisual Fund, and high visibility at international film festivals.

    Six of the new TV series come from Joj (www.joj.sk): Panelák (Block of flats), Kutyil s.r.o. (Handyman ltd), Keby bolo keby (If there was if), Odsúdené (Convicted), along with two sitcoms, Mafstory (Mafstory) and Profesionali (Professionals). Markiza (www.markiza.sk) offers Ordinacia (Ordination) and Mesto tieňov (The City of Shadows). Markiza launched several more series, although they have not achieved the ratings of the most popular programmes (Medzi nami, Priateľky, Radio and Radio Fresh).

    Despite Joj's TV series ratings, Markiza is still television leader with its average share on the television markets 31.3 in 2009. Joj with 19.9% is in second place. However, Markiza dropped from last year´s average 35.3 %, while Joj climbed from 16.6% in 2008.

    Markiza as a part of the CME group (www.cmegroup.com) utilises the series produced by the CME Czech station TV Nova.

    Joj has also started cooperation with the Czech TV channel Barrandov, coproducin Odsudene. Barrandov TV (www.barrandov.tv), which launched in January 2009, also adapted the TV serie Profesionali.

    "The model of Czech-Slovak cooperation as it functioned in Odsudene worked out well. We certainly plan to continue in Czech-Slovak coproductions and we will look for new ways of cooperation," Joj spokesperson Tatiana Tothov told FNE.

    Peoplemeters prove that Slovak audiences want to watch Slovak series with Slovak actors and actresses and with a Slovak reality. After 1989 the media market was cluttered with the series from US or soap operas from Latin America.

    The biggest change was the risk that Joj took, when it produced its own series Panelak. It proved that Slovak viewer wish to watch in prime-time Slovak series. Joj also began producing sitcoms that achieved cult status. The increase in production has had a huge impact on Slovak film professionals - positions such as director of photography, editor, script writer, director finally were open to local professionals. The lack of opportunities had been the results of the small film production in Slovakia over the past two decades.

    Lately, crime series have been gaining in popularity. "Crime series and TV series from juristic or hospital environment are our most popular. The locations and the possibility to vary the stories and character give space to filmmakers within the format. With the right actors and actresses it can be an interesting product," said Tothova.

    Slovak film server www.kinema,sk announced the Joj series Odsudene from D.N.A. production as "television programme of the year."

    TV analysts predict that series will be shorter and consist of fewer segments. with more seasonal series expected. Currently, professionals from both Slovak private televisions see the market with Slovak series saturated.

    Slovak public television STV (www.stv.sk), required by law to do its own film production, has not moved into producing TV series.