Before becoming the new CEO of KI.KA last month (formerly Kinderkanal), Frank Beckmann was responsible for the production of KI.KA programs such as Aktiv Boxx. Beckmann has also done kid stints at German pubcaster ZDF as director of the youth magazine PuR and tapped into his journalism training as a freelancer for logo (ZDF), Germany’s news show for kids.
Q: Albert Schaefer, your predecessor, once said that `being an opinion leader is more important for KI.KA than being a market leader.’ Do you share that view?
A: We want programs that will appeal to a majority, but in fact, it’s our task to establish quality programs. I wouldn’t mind becoming a market leader, but never at the cost of quality.
Q: Programming-wise, what will change?
A: We are moving to a bigger studio in September that will enable us to invite the children in. I think it’s essential that the audience is part of the program.
Q: How is KI.KA affected by changes in the German kids TV landscape?
A: With Sat 1 and Fox Kids, we have new competitors. And the cake won’t become bigger, which means that times are getting tougher.
Q: What will KI.KA’s future look like?
A: Right from the start, interactive elements have been very important for KI.KA’s image. We look upon TV not as a one-way medium. This will become more and more important in the future.
Q: What are some examples of this interactive direction?
A: In July, we started a new quiz-format show called SPIELBOXX that uses teletext as a means of interactivity. The basic principle is a multiple
choice system in which both the audience in front of the screen as well as users of the teletext can take part. If a teletext user has given three right answers by typing in the right numbers, they will receive a code and a telephone number enabling them to call the studio; the first successful caller will be rewarded. There are about 10,000 callers a day, and after one week on the air, the number of children with the right answer had doubled. Another innovation is new characters-such as Chili the sheep and Bernd the bread-that will represent KI.KA in our September-launching Tolle Sachen show, which mixes cartoon and puppet show elements. In children’s TV, you need a character the kids can identify with. Again, we will be one step ahead of our German competitors.