Which TV shows are oversaturated

Society broadcasts: what remains are the "sideways glances"

After a brief heyday, society programs on TV are experiencing a minor crisis 26 years after the “Seitenblicke” was founded. A consequence of years of oversaturation.

From the opera ball to the opening of the Salzburg Festival - the “Hi Society” program on ATV did not survive a complete social year. The private broadcaster stops broadcasting at the end of July and instead broadcasts short messages. That could be interpreted as the victory of serious information over the insignificant navel gazing of the manageable local society. But the low average of 127,000 viewers has two simple reasons: It is the result of years of Society overdose - and, in the case of ATV, a lack of a sharp-tongued or at least polarizing personality.

Not so long ago, the society show genre suddenly became a ratings panacea. At least that's what ORF boss Alexander Wrabetz thought, who poached the “Hi Society” presenter Dominic Heinzl in 2010 from the private competition ATV, set up a 1.3 million euro studio for him and gave him a daily program called “Chili” that was broadcast every year rumored 2.5 million euros in production costs. And the public service broadcaster suddenly had two social programs. An interesting effect occurred: the “Chili”, conceived as a cheekier, younger version of the “Seitenblicke”, did not move, it settled with over 100,000 viewers. But the interest of the "Seitenblicke", founded in 1987, remained unbroken. They still want to see an average of 786,000 people every day.


"As if I had initiated a porno"

So there is still interest in the famous, the rich and the intrusive who are constantly crowding in front of the cameras at charity galas, theater premieres or filming. Even if the reports, as in the case of the "Seitenblicke", are only rarely presented with a slight irony in a good public service manner, sometimes delicately. The strength of the "sideways glances" is their reliability and probably also their brevity. The show starts at the same time every day, never lasts longer than three to four minutes, always brings the same protagonists and never gets excited. The private broadcaster ATV wanted to imitate this under the old name “Hi Society”, but with the new faces Claudia Hölzl and Sasa Schwarzjirg. Which had the paradoxical effect that Dominic Heinzl's cheeky, clumsy way of moderating suddenly went away, although it was difficult to bear on ORF.

Incidentally, the outrage over the introduction of the "Seitenblicke", invented by the then ORF director Teddy Podgorski, was comparable in 1987 to the excitement about Dominic Heinzl's expensive "Chili" in 2010. Podgorski still likes to say that he felt like a would have "I initiated a porno". He wanted to bring on TV what the newspapers had long been printing in detail: social life in the country. In 2003 Heinzl undoubtedly brought a breath of fresh air into the somewhat aging social reporting with his "Hi Society" on ATV, at the same time the level sank with the dominance of cosmetic surgeons and builders, who simply fit better into private television. Puls 4 also stopped the daily society program "Pink". All that is left are the “sideways glances”.

("Die Presse", print edition, June 19, 2013)