European public broadcasters must help fund diverse high-end drama content and nurture future audiences, according to speakers at a Sarajevo film festival CineLink Talks panel.

Watch the discussion above 

Speaking at the ‘Public pockets for private dramas: The financing challenge?’ event, Julie-Jeanne Régnault, secretary general of European Film Agency Directors Association (EFAD), said that out of EFAD’s 37 members, 25 of these European film agencies are now actively “supporting TV series”.

This is a significant shift given that these agencies have previously been almost entirely focused on the theatrical film space, according to Régnault. It was also explained how regional funds and tax incentives are also increasingly likely to be open to high-end drama.

However, one continuing challenge for European broadcasters is finding new viewers especially among the young - “nurturing the audience and shaping their tastes for tomorrow” as panel moderator Milan Stojanović, producer of drama series The Last Socialist Architect, put it.

Anna Fukuda, drama commissioning editor at Franco-German public channel ARTE FR, said it “is definitely the role of public money to shape the audience of tomorrow especially if a lot of those platforms function on algorithms… and people keep on seeing what they are used to seeing.”

Alex Traila, currently programme manager for the Pilot Programme for Series Co-Productions at the Council of Europe, highlighted the need for European broadcasters to invest in “offering more diverse content… different languages, different relationships, different understandings about culture”. He warned about the “narrowing window” of what is being provided by commercial broadcasters who have to “cater to the needs of their shareholders.”

“Citizens need their freedom to choose and artists need the freedom of their artistic expression,” Traila continued of the financing challenge ahead for Europeans looking to make - and market - more challenging artistic content.

The panel also featured Jarmo Lampela, head of drama at Finland’s YLE since 2015.