Zane Valeniece • Head of acquisitions, LTV
“There are shifts happening in terms of co-productions and financing, but I’d still say it’s all about the story and the characters”
- The Latvian executive breaks down the content that pubcaster LTV wishes to acquire, its target audiences and its distribution strategies
At this year’s Cartoon Forum (18-21 September), we sat down with Zane Valeniece, head of acquisitions at Latvian public broadcaster LTV. During our chat, we covered LTV’s participation in the forum and the pubcaster’s target audiences, as well as its content acquisition and distribution strategies.
Cineuropa: Why is it important for LTV to attend Toulouse’s Cartoon Forum?
Zane Valeniece: It’s a great networking platform for discovering new projects, new ideas and new characters. For me as a buyer, [my job is about] watching screeners every day and selecting titles, but I’m always looking for something original and unique, which carries some values. This is why it’s worth coming [here], discovering something new, and seeing what the upcoming trends and programmes will be in the near future.
What type of content are you seeking?
I’m mostly looking for preschool- and upper school-orientated animated shows. That’s still our core target audience for our linear channels and our VoD platform, Bērnistaba. In particular, I’m looking for shows that involve imagination, and which include creativity and educational elements, as well as adventurous bits. [It must be content that] children can relate to and [through which they can] learn something. For me, it’s very important to focus on the story, but also on the characters and the values they hold – is it about friendship? Is it about team building? I think these values are great ones to teach through animation.
Have you noticed any significant audience and market shifts in recent years?
Yes, maybe there’s something going on in terms of techniques, storytelling and book adaptations. This year, for example, we have noticed there’s a lot of slapstick comedy. It’s something that we were missing last year; there weren’t that many [comedies of this kind]. […] And I see some changes in terms of budgets. If you compare them with last year’s ones, you can notice the difference. Besides, there are also some shifts happening in terms of co-productions and financing, but I’d still say it’s all about the story and the characters.
Do you think this soaring interest in slapstick comedy is a pan-European trend?
It’s a global trend, probably because of the streaming platforms and other channels. It's hard to tell whether it’s something affecting public television. This is the main question I’m going to ask myself after Cartoon Forum: is this something for LTV? If I need to pick these, then I need to find something really good for a public television station, something different. But if it’s a trend, we surely have to think about it. […] It’s interesting because LTV has never been overly into slapstick or comedies; the shows we broadcast sport humorous bits around characters and situations, but they’re not about pure “humour”.
Could you mention some of the most successful shows you have aired recently?
Bing Bunny has been a hit for years. We dubbed it with kids’ and actors’ voices, and through this adorable character, children can learn a lot. Other favourites are The Smurfs, Messy Goes to OKIDO and Simon.
Do you only acquire content, or are you open to co-producing or contributing in some other way to the projects in development that you find suited to your editorial needs?
We’re not co-producing, since we don’t have a dedicated budget for co-productions, but rather only for acquisitions. However, we follow the projects and provide some comments, and sometimes the producers ask to look through the material. […] As a media partner, we play an important role – we read the script and see the animatics, but mostly, we work with finished shows.
What about prebuys?
Before acquiring, I need to see at least two or three episodes with animatics or wait for the finished episode, and then I can do the prebuy so that I know that the content is the same and it’s set in stone, so nothing is going to change. It’s not something we typically do, anyway.
Could you tell us more about your streaming platform?
We still work mainly on linear TV, but we do have our dedicated, free platform for children’s content, Bērnistaba. It’s still a young, new platform. What we do is buy content just for the platform, [we stream it] following a different schedule [than the linear TV one], and sometimes we provide additional content so that children can do more instead of just watching – typically, these are educational materials or games.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.