• Broadcasters are moving the environment up the agenda
  • IBC2019 panel challenged the industry to make sustainability “cool”
  • Media can be a green “voice for good” IBC audience hears


The real green screen: Sustainable production

Building a positive environmental movement to educate and empower audiences and activate global change lies with broadcasters, a panel agree during the IBC Lounge Talk. 

Sustainability is one area of change that needs to be top of broadcaster’s agendas, along with diversity, carbon neutrality and fake news.

Speaking during the panel session ‘Creating content for environmental change,’ A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland called for broadcasters to use their power for good and “embedding a new normal in our content is an incredible opportunity.”

Speakers agreed the term ‘sustainability’ has significant negative connotations, particularly with “non-traditional suitability audiences,” however Sutherland explains “broadcasters are not giving audiences the content they want.”

She warned if you don’t change your business acumen “you will be the next dinosaurs because you won’t be relevant.”

The new genre of documentary filmmaking and production of content are empowering the topic of sustainability in film and TV programmes and is at the forefront of the modern broadcasting.

“As a media company we have to use a voice for good,” says Fiona Morgan head of inspiring action at Sky, “we’ve been doing that for a long time and became the first carbon neutral media company with 31,000 staff and 23 million customers.”

Working together with partners to collaborate is the key to successful campaigning Morgan explains, “adapt content for different audiences across different platforms, make it cool and engage young people.

“We as broadcasters have huge influence of talent on screen and the opportunities to negotiate new contracts to ensure sustainability is in there, we have such a huge voice.”

Jacomien Nijhof is manager innovation and fiction at Dutch Public Broadcaster EO she says changing public perception on sustainability topics perceived as left wing is critical.

“Most our viewers are in the middle [of left and right] and our challenge is engaging audiences, so they’re not confused,” she adds “budgets are tight, and we need to make good and firm decisions.”

Speakers echoed the importance of changing audiences’ perceptions and expectations while bringing awareness on environmental issues to the forefront of the media.

Sutherland adds: “We have a reasonability to reimagine a new future, not one of climate catastrophe but we all have a responsibility to reinvent content and broadcasters are key to this.

“For brands and businesses if you are not an activist you are part of the problem.”

Broadcasters needs to redefine their purpose of business with a new business model set to transform the planet.

“The information needs to be accessible and tools to start this upswell,” says Ellen Windemuth who founded production company Waterbear and urges broadcasters to install this change from the top down and focus on democratising content.

“We are documentary producers and our audiences need to be offered solutions.”

To date, Windemuth has harnessed about 64 large NGOs and made films about what they are doing in the field.

“NGOs have been effective to more of an extent that you would think because they have money to do the conversation work but don’t have the money to invest with the media,” she says.

Calling on broadcasters to democratise and “give access to the truth” and the change and solutions that is occurring to empower audiences to create their own content for positive environmental change.