Making real TV with social values

Stories make for great television.

Rudy Buttignol

Stories make for great television.

That’s one of the message Knowledge Network president Rudy Buttignol will have for his audience when he arrives in Kelowna next week to do several speaking engagements, and meet with those in the business, arts, entertainment and educational communities.

“We’re like the public space in a well built-up urban area,” said Buttignol. “We make the private space even better.”

Part of that equation means eliminating reality television. When the Knowledge Network presents a real program—what’s commonly known as a documentary—one can be guaranteed the information is actually real. The network does commit itself to crafting great story lines for both its documentary and fictional programming, rather than simply throwing a bunch of people in a situation to see what will happen, he said.

Buttignol doesn’t begrudge commercial networks their reality programs or the style of programming that makes shows and series come in pre-defined season sets, but he says there are other ways of doing things.

European comedies and dramas, for example, run in lengths defined by story content rather than time slots available. When the scripts run out, so too does the material on air.

This usually leads to a few awkward moments in the communities he hits, mind you.

“The most common question is: ‘Why do repeat your programming so much?’” said Buttignol, noting it’s often followed quickly by a “Why don’t you repeat my favourite program more often?”

The answer, of course, is a big part of the reason the network, also known as B.C.’s public broadcaster, is touring the area—funding. The Knowledge Network is funded in part by the provincial government and in part by voluntary donations and they need to get the word out about what the network does and find out what viewers are looking for in order to stay alive.

In addition to providing televised coverage of galleries, artists, ballet and opera performances which people outside major urban centres may not have regular access to, Buttignol says he thinks its important people understand the network is also one of the few free cultural content providers available in B.C. and has value in its egalitarian nature.

Provided as part of the very basic cable access, the Knowledge Network concentrates on providing programming aimed at literacy with good social values which young families and really anyone, regardless of socioeconomic standing, can access.

As for those pesky questions about the decline in television viewership that keep making headlines, he says Knowledge Network has really only had to make a few adjustments. Now available on a number of platforms, people can watch the network’s programming from their computer, iPad, cell phone, any place, anytime—though the bulk of viewers still prefer to turn on “the tube.”

To give him your thoughts or find out more about Buttignol’s view on the world, and the views presented on the Knowledge Network, there are plenty of opportunities next week.

Buttignol will speak to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 14, before stopping in at the Centre for Arts and Technology for a discussion group. In the evening there will be a donor reception at the Delta Grand Hotel.

There will be a Filmmaker’s Roundtable discussion at The Grand, 5 p.m. on Sept. 15, followed by a public screening of a selection of short films on leading artists, performers and designers living and working in B.C. at the Paramount Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The network will also do private consultations with local arts and cultural workers.

For a complete listing see



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