The 2010 ACT Brochure on "A Healthy Audience" gives an insight into the programmes broadcast by our channels in their different markets. Like last year when we issued our first Brochure to respond to our commitment under the European Commission's Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, we have again been impressed by the amount of programmes that exist across Europe.
For this year's edition, we have looked at even more markets than last year, including now ten markets: Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The conclusion is simple: People like to watch programmes related to a healthier lifestyle and tune in by thousands and even millions every day to watch programmes advising them how to do sports in an efficient way and what and how to eat so as to stay healthy and slim.
By showing these programmes and engaging with viewers, television can thus contribute to a healthier lifestyle of European citizens.
But we did not only look at more markets and programmes than last year, we also asked other stakeholders in the debate, including governments, for their opinion. You will see an interesting interview with the French Chef Cyril Lignac and a fascinating report about BSkyB´s successful cooperation with the British Cycling organisation and finally, the German Secretary of State Julia Klöckner commenting on a cooperation between the broadcaster and the Government to promote a healthy lifestyle among kids.
In terms of programmes themselves, we found out that cookery shows are of great interest to viewers in basically all markets, in particular in countries like France, Italy or Spain, where people were historically used to the healthy Mediterranean diet but increasingly this is coming under pressure from "fast" or unhealthy food.
Another format we see in several European markets are contest-style programmes like "You are what you eat" or "The biggest loser" where teams of people compete with each other to lose weight. These programmes are so successful that they are shown in several European markets and travel throughout Europe being adapted to the local needs.
Other programmes include medical advice about how to lead a healthy lifestyle as well as programmes targeted at a special audience like children or women broadcast either on generalist or thematic channels. Finally, we see several of these programmes being integrated in daily morning shows in forms of short episodes so that leading a healthy lifestyle becomes part of everyday life – attracting a wider audience, across all social and demographic groups.
All programmes have one characteristic in common: People are interested in them, often they actively participate in them and they like to watch them. The power of television can thus help as a positive tool to communicate messages about healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
We can contribute more effectively to the debate at European level by giving examples of our channels' programming rather than discussing yet again the reasons why there should not be any further bans on advertising. Bans are counter-productive. By contrast, engaging with our viewers, listening to what they want and ask for, and delivering such content in an entertaining and informative way – that is what we do on a daily basis in a variety of European markets – allows campaigners for a healthier lifestyle positively to harness the power of television.
It is against this background that we want to recall why our channels produce or broadcast these programmes – firstly, because people are interested in the issue of health and nutrition and secondly, because the programmes themselves appeal to the audience and meet their tastes and needs.