Contradiction between cultural concern and capital attraction in national media
Ehsan Kaveh, the head of RPCTA and management consultant at IRIB 3 believed that the national media faces with some problems and raising the awareness of the activist in this area is the solution. Kaveh has been chosen as the head of RPCTA a while ago, he intends to prepare a suitable place for producers by creating supply and demand space. He described some of the RPCTA`s programs in a friendly meeting with Pooya Journalist club.
Tasnim: what is RPCTA`s mission?
Kaveh: RPCTA has two main missions; one in the field of animation and the other in the field of TV programming. One of the most important weaknesses on TV is the production. In national media, things like how to transmit the content heavily rely on producer`s decision. In this case, producer faces a paradox that he has to keep both his cultural interest and his ability to raise funds. So if we focus on content, the one which is not good at raising funds will be omitted, while focusing on money will omit the cultural interest. Accordingly, one of my reasons for joining RPCTA is to eliminate this concern that we can produce products that while having cultural interest, they are also able to raise funds for themselves. We created a marketing department as well In order to find a way to raise funds for productions. In this perspective, all institutions even our top one are considered customer to us, since they invest too. In the first place, we intend to broadcast the productions at IRIB. Of course, there is no fixed contract to broadcast RPCTA`s productions, whether at IRIB or any other place.
Tanim: you mentioned producing, how do you think about it?
Kaveh: There is a difference between a producer and a production company. In televisions across the globe, the senior producer is a company, but in our television, it`s an individual. In Iran this individual takes the money whether through IRIB or there is a sponsor. Unfortunately there is no balance in this kind of contract, since one party is a big organization like IRIB which has unique and perfect facilities.
Tasnim: you are saying that RPCTA wants to deal with IRIB as a TV production company. Has there been any other company that interacts with national media like this?
Kaveh: I cannot say whether it already existed or not. Some people may say a company like Owj interacts with IRIB in this way, but as far as I know they produce with their own money and IRIB will broadcast the end result. Since IRIB is the sole powerful broadcaster in Iran, we think about productions with return on investment. One of the serious problems both in animation and other TV programs is that the producer makes his profit in production, therefore he will benefit more from a bigger production; if the profit is in distribution, the producer will produce something that attracts the audience too. As a matter of fact, the product or content is the underdog in this process that no one cares about its release. The producer will produce; the executive will present the demo and at the end of the day, there is a product which is not going to show any way. Actually the audience is sacrificed here. If the producer and the distributor are being aware of their mutual needs, we have a product which TV likes too. We are looking for such interaction at RPCTA as well. Improving the knowledge of TV programming is one thing that we have prepared its infra structures at RPCTA. Although television is a sensitive and professional medium, but some of its productions are made by filmmakers who are not successful in cinema. There are some bugs about big budget TV series too. A TV series like Mokhtarnameh takes eight years to finish, while each season of a foreign and popular TV Series will produce and release in a year, because 90 percent of visual effects are CGI which will save both time and budget.
Tasnim: your management in Tehran network coincided with IRIB`s agility plan. How did you pursue this policy?
Kaveh: I need to clarify a bit about Tehran network before answering this question. Tehran network had a two months pre-production period before we officially get started. We did not even have experimental broadcast, while we see these days, a channel like Iran kala has been on air experimentally for more than a year. In case of production, we had a commitment of 150 minutes per day which we reached 70% with the budget we had. For instance, we had to make a five minutes program like darshahr for 176000 Rls per minute that was impossible. Apart from this, we had a staff of 15 people and they had to manage everything.
Tasnim: there is no precise definition for the revolutionary cultural works and their features yet. On the other hand, you want to show your own works on TV and they need to be popular and at the same time they should follow the IRIB rules. How will you cope with it?
Kaveh: you are quite right. Our country suffers from academic weakness and lack of science. It is true that a great amount of articles are produced in our country, but it can not necessarily create knowledge for us. It is not my duty to specify these red lines and I am not able to do so either. We should expect this from Hozeh and university. They should specify these red lines for us.
Tasnim: Do you believe that these red lines should be reviewed by one person?
Kaveh: yes, but that person should be the one who understands the producer`s point. Not that when the work is talking about something, the reviewer gets it something else since he does not understand its constructive point. For example, such paradigm has been occurred in Ofogh tv and they have the least problems in broadcasting.
Tasnim: you introduced new TV presenter to television, how do you assess the mechanism of TV presenter selection in national media?
Kaveh: unfortunately what is going on between the TV presenters is not pleasant at all. Some famous TV presenters believe that memorizing the text is their strength, while the audience wants to hear it in a correct way, not that the TV presenter goofs up constantly. The TV presenter needs to know the topic inside out and presents it properly to the audience. Being an expert and a producer as well as a TV presenter is a big mistake. That`s why a team of an editor and a producer should guide the performance in order to avoid unexpected events. Such events are the things that are unfortunately repeated these days and widely distributed through virtual networks and the TV presenter who is so famous is not able to react properly at the right moment. The problem is that the producers only play the responsive role; it shouldn’t be that way, the producer is responsible if the program is being bad and all will praise the TV presenter if the program is good. Another problem is that TV presenters are becoming brands; it means Television turns people into some kind of brand, but it cannot control them instead. A TV presenter is like a football player; when he is hired by a team, he cannot do anything outside the norm of that team. If you don’t have a proper deal with someone who becomes a star by yourself, he or she may soon become your nightmare.
Interviewers: Amir Hossein Mokariani & Mohammad Foad Vakili