Manifesto against Ketchup Television

At a meeting arranged in connection with the EU MEDIA supported training programme Eurodoc, under the leadership of the former head of documentaries at arte France, Thierry Garrel and current Head of Documentaries at YLE, Finland Erkki Astala, the following text was formulated:

We, commissioning editors and fund executives for documentary from all over the world, convened in Arles for the first Creative Commissioning Agora (CCA) on September 24, 2010.

We are the curators of public media, the advocates of public service. We bear the responsibility of the care and feeding of the viewership, the responsibility of building bridges between the creative community and the attentive audiences.

We want to reach a multitude of spectators, bearing in mind that audience is an ambition, not an obsession. Our job is to provide the documentaries and for the people to have the choice. Public service needs to keep the door open.

We aim to prevent television becoming more primitive than the people. We oppose the ketchup television that reduces documentaries to mere mainstream docu-pleasant. We should not make programs just to fill

schedules; you build schools to educate children, you don’t make babies to fill up schools.  We feel it’s useful that diversified voices are heard and fight for a docu-diversity that brings durable and long-lasting nourishment to the viewer. Ratings are not the only value currency. The social and cultural impact and the ripple-effect of small unique works that open eyes and minds is our task. Long-sellers and far-sellers can be more important that best-sellers.

We want to work in mutual honesty, trust, transparency and excellence with the independents, share dreams in the “golden triangle” of author, producer, commissioning editor. We understand that real quality comes from the initiative, desire and vision of the authors. We are on the same page with our commitment to create new images and provide the viewers with emotion, intelligence and imagination. We share the same belief and hope for the bright future of the documentary genre.

We don’t believe in the end of television. We believe television needs to be re-invented. We believe public service has a mission, which is in the core of democracy. Our experience, our expertise and our commitment qualify us to contribute to its definition. Documentary, as a means of expression, knowledge, memory, and thought has an inseparable role in that mission.

We are all living in different situations, however we will struggle inside our channels and institutions to launch innovative and relevant programs. We are conscious of the necessity to let the “kids” enter the house and we care to share and to transmit them our experience. We intend to strengthen our world network to share our energy, identify talents and enlarge our strategic vision.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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