Friday, February 14, 2014

Italy’s A+E Criminal Investigation Channel is a rerun fiasco (UPDATE)

I am a professional tv watcher and I warmly welcomed the coming of A&E Italy, in particular I was totally happy with the debut of Criminal Investigation Channel that in Italy is run by the A&E SVP Sherin Salvetti who was appointed in the job by A+E Europe Manager Dean-Possenniskie .

In the early stage of the CI debut in Italy, everything was fine, except maybe a more than average amount of self-promos but that was ok if you are used to record tv shows from your decoder .

After less than 3 months since its debut in Italy, the A+E channel only broadcasts reruns of its major hit-shows like Cold Case Files and  Death comes to town

In practice Mrs. Salvetti gave the word "rerun" a new meaning because a single episode is being broadcasted for as long as two weeks.

Maybe Mrs. Sharin Salvetti thinks Italian watchers have their brain completely fried so that they won’t distinguish a rerun from a new episode, hence they won't bother her butt too much.  But that’s not my case and certainly not the case of those Italian furious watchers who have been reporting this and other issues on the CI Italy’s Facebook page.

Sometimes I try to imagine if this genius-like rerun strategy had been made in the U.S. What would have happened to Mrs. Salvetti? I am more than sure that the cable subscribers would have made a long line around the A+E building to have their money back.

But there’s more. Following some unknown doctrine of Content Localisation as their main (and only) Marketing strategy, Mrs. Salvetti decided to completely transform a famous American hit show which  in the US is known as “Beyond Scared Straight” by runing it into “Youngsters at risk with Luisella Costamagna”. (????) a supposed Italian journalist whose purpose is a lot of talk about boring-to-death social issues which are shown to CI viewers as a sort of sermon before the real show kicks in. 

Mrs. Salvetti did it ever come to your mind that Italian watchers could have got misguided and confused by this "little" change?

I mean if I call a show “Larry King Live with Larry King” I do expect to see Mr. King as the main host of the show. Instead in this genius-like marketing operation of content localisation we see this flashy dressed Italian lady who stands still in what it seems an empty wing of some unknown Italian detention center (whose cells emerge from the background) while she speaks of totally unrelated issues to what the watcher is going to see thereafter (which is indeed Beyond Scared Straight). I would say this is pretty much a disconnection rather than a connecting attempt to the Italian audience. 

Is it possible that your localizing strategy isn’t working at all?

I mean who told you Localising is a winning strategy to make global content more familiar?

Italian watchers are already very familiar with American history, culture, folklore, laws etc.
So where’s the need of customizing a content that you define as “global” for the Italian local audience? Maybe you confused Italy with Afghanistan?

Besides the fact of the Italian audience familiarity with American content, what’s really lousy is this non-existing (unconscious) need of "Localizing" a content which has instead a universal appeal in itself.

What you call "content localization" is something completely misleading not just as a strategy but as a principle in itself. I mean the show is about a bunch of troubled kids who go visit a detention center to avoid getting in trouble again. Where's the need for localisation? This is universally appealing content. It's called re-educational narratives. 

In addition, I would like to remind you that we live in a world connected by the Internet where people are able to access the A+E content directly from the American website on a 24/7 basis.

I was wondering if you ever heard a few words like Netflix, Youtube or Smart tv, do they sound familiar to you?

What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that perpetuating this localizing (read dividing) strategy it will only make "global" tv content LESS FAMILIAR to every single person worldwide.

On this planet the trend is that we are trying to destroy categories and divisions and go for a single content that is being shared worldwide, so that people living at different latitudes would feel more close and more related to each other. Instead it seems that CI Italy and more widely A+E Networks are willing to promote more divisions among people. Is that what you are trying to pursue Mrs. Salvetti?

I would like to know what Mr. Dean-Possenniskie thinks of all this and what Nancy Dubuc and Abbe Raven think of all this.

Obviously we can’t report it directly to Mrs. Salvetti nor to his supervisor Mr. Possenniskie because in the best tradition of tv big shots they both don’t have a twitter nor a Facebook account nor are they reachable somehow, so we asked the CI Italy Facebook page admin when this rerun-nightmare would end and he/she responded us that this rerun strategy is not going to end any soon. Unbelievable.

However this is something you need to solve now because Italian watchers want to watch American tv shows and they deserve their new episodes now as they have the same right you have of pursuing Happiness.

I hope you have a very good answer for this.

Gianluca D’Agostino

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Gianluca D'Agostino worked for CNN in Washington DC and for Associated Press in Rome and Tirana. Holds a Ph.d in Theory of Information and Communication and worked as Researcher at the Department of English at Stanford University.  
                         twitter: @giallucad