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LUISS Guido Carli


How to create an international TV model: the Israeli case

Professor Mensi analyzes the success of Israeli formats

Maurizio Mensi LUISS TV Israele

On Thursday, April 7, at 6:00 p.m., the Aula Toti hosts a conference in collaboration with APT – Associazione Produttori Televisivi entitled Format Italy: Why does Israel export television programs and we don’t?
To answer this question, Professor of Freedom of Communication and Information Maurizio Mensi from the Department of Political Science has written a report on legal elements behind the internationalization of Israeli television formats, to be presented at the beginning of the event. 

“This research was inspired by a reflection launched by the Communication Division of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism, audiovisual associations such as ANICA and APT, in addition to broadcasters Rai, Mediaset and Sky, to better understand efficient ways of strengthening the Italian presence on the international audiovisual market,” explains Professor Mensi. “The analysis of the sector revealed a worrying situation, both in scripted and non-scripted formats. In a time when the international television market is expanding, and with strong national fiction production, we see very few, isolated cases of Italian television abroad: Romanzo Criminale and Gomorra. From January 2013 to June 2014, Italy was the fifth country in importing foreign programs, while not exporting a single one.”

Among the most successful countries, after England and the United States, is Israel, whose simple concepts, low budgets and highly adaptable formats have helped the country to succeed on the international market. “Formats like In Treatment, Homeland and I Can Do That! are being exported around the world. “If we consider the size of the Israeli market and that the institutional assets are similar to those found in Italy, the country’s success seems truly extraordinary. Israel has incentive programs for television content production, similar to European systems, that create a favorable environment for the creation of new formats, including mandatory air time for national productions as well as financing for production companies. But this is not enough to create a winning model.”

LUISS Format Italia IsraeleThe goal of the research and round table at LUISS is to understand the secret of Israeli television, and understand how it could be applied in Italy. “The winning formula can be summarized in one word: internationalization. From a commercial point of view, it is the limited audience in the Israeli market that has created strong incentive to develop international products. What makes Israel a quid unicum and inspirational model is its favorable context, including culture, that aims directly for the Anglophone market. For local production companies, especially small or medium sized groups and startups, it is more advantageous to target the international market in English, given the vast audience and the variety of products they can offer.”

A distinctive element of the Israeli television industry has been its ability to create a virtuous circle based on know-how that allows it to efficiently develop formats while containing costs. “Another important aspect is a marked risk-taking spirit. They take nothing for granted and play on the same level as larger production houses in an open market,” concludes the professor. “We must also add to this the ability to combine creativity with the use of avant-garde technology. Despite the fact that Israeli production companies work with smaller budgets that those from other countries, the system is able to nurture young talents with international experience that understand the tastes and requirements of a public that demands high-quality content.”