For the first ever online edition of Le Rendez-Vous Docs (March 18), we asked the team in charge of documentary programs at Radio-Télévision Suisse romande (RTS), to say a few words about their acquisitions from France and the success of French programs among the channel’s viewers.

Well represented at Le Rendez-Vous Docs, with six registered delegates, the documentary team from RTS was also present during pitching sessions on March 18. We thank them!

The Interview

Gaspard LAMUNIERE, Documentary Program Manager

Gaspard Lamunière

Gaspard Lamunière was a magazine journalist before joining the documentary division at RTS.

How important is French content to RTS?

As a French-language channel, RTS works a lot with French producers and distributors. On average, we make around 50 pre-purchases with France which we guarantee will have priority broadcasting on France TV and Arte. We work with France a lot, as much for our geopolitics and modern history slots as for our investigation and social issues slots.

Why did you sign up for the first edition of Le Rendez-Vous Docs? 

I have been taking part in Le Rendez-Vous Biarritz for the last 15 years, and TV France International is a key partner for RTS, as much for screenings at Le Rendez-Vous as for regular meet-ups during other markets.

What program caught your eye among the new projects pitched on March 18?  

Célibat des prêtres: le spectre d’un schisme (2021, 2×52’) / Balanga.

Frédéric ZIMMERMANN, Temps Présent Program Manager

Frédéric Zimmermann

Frédéric Zimmermann spent many of his 20 years with RTS as an assistant director and director before moving into, four years ago, the Temps Présent team. 

Can you tell us a little bit about Temps Présent?

Temps Présent is truly an RTS program. It can be compared to the Investigation program on RTBF, Envoyé Spécial and Complément d’enquête on France 2, or even Frontline on PBS in the USA. Temps Présent has gone out at prime time every week of the year since 1969, and it handles subjects such as politics, social issues, economics, history, and social events reported in the news from the broadest possible scope – both in Switzerland and internationally. We produce roughly 34 52-minute reports each year (some 26 minutes).

What is your role in the Temps Présent team?

My job is to find the 18 other films we need each year, sometimes by commissioning in Switzerland and elsewhere, but mainly by buying and pre-buying from the international market. I often buy documentaries and reports with very high editorial value which I then adapt into French and into our 52-minute format.

What has been the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on your work?

Covid has had a huge impact on our work over the last year. We have had to stop filming several times and, as a result, we have had to increase the number of programs purchased. Temps Présent has broadcast a lot of films about the pandemic, many of which I have found among English-speaking companies. Our viewer figures have been excellent, even record-breaking at times – for example, with a report by the Australian channel ABC about the beginning of the epidemic in China.

And from France?

In terms of French productions, we also broadcast an investigation by Première Ligne called Big Pharma, Gaming the System (2020, 52’ &90’) distributed by CLPB Rights, and a surprising report about UFOs, Flying Objects – A State Secret (2020, 52’) by ARTE Distribution, which helped us increase our numbers among younger viewers. We are currently looking to move away from programs about Coronavirus. We are ready to be amazed!

What program caught your eye among the new projects pitched on March 18?  

I spotted several very promising programs… including Célibat des prêtres: le spectre d’un schisme (2021, 2×52’) / Balanga.