Television travelers in times of pandemic

Among all the formats of our television, travel programs, due to their particular characteristics, have become the most affected by the global coronavirus crisis. They were paralyzed in March with confinement, as happened in the rest of the sectors, and now they are trying to return to ‘normality’ in search of Spanish citizens who emigrated to explore a new opportunity in life. However, the low number of flights or the restrictions to enter other countries make production difficult and require the reinvention of formats that continue to have the support of the audience in their multiple national and regional versions.

«In almost 16 years we had never stopped. The pandemic has been a rather insurmountable barrier, “says journalist Paloma Ferre, director and creator of the pioneer ‘Madrileños por el mundo’, which has been broadcast since 2005 on Telemadrid. This program was the first of its kind to discover the lives of migrants who had moved to the other side of the planet. He set up a school for other televisions and now faces the challenge of recovering the recording of chapters in the middle of a pandemic. “In March we had to leave the teams because we could not fly safely. We have been unemployed until two weeks ago, but Spain is a high-risk country for the rest of the nations, with which they do not let us enter many places, “he explains.

To this is also added the reduction of flights, which has complicated the development of the production of the program. «They fell almost 80%. You couldn’t fly. Imagine what that means for a travel program, that we take the plane like someone taking the subway. It is much more difficult to get to the sites, ”acknowledges Ferre, who points out that the quarantines that reporters who come to other countries must undergo has forced work habits to change.

In this sense, he explains that there are destinations to which you can travel “with some speed” in the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Africa. “The rest is complex,” adds the journalist, who clarifies the protocol they have decided to undertake in order to carry out this format. “Now we ask ourselves which countries they allow us to enter today, because in the afternoon they may no longer let us. The rules don’t change from one day to the next; They change them in hours, so imagine how complicated it is to buy tickets ”, he emphasizes.

Between trips, the ‘Madrileños por el mundo’ team has also been able to learn about the different processes of the pandemic and the impact of the restrictions on citizens. «Speaking with the interviewees, we have found a common denominator in the different destinations visited. In countries where more antigen tests are carried out, the lower the curve, the better the disease is controlled, and the economy recovers sooner, ”he illustrates.

A long saga

Travel shows have become a successful formula for television networks. The first was ‘Madrileños …’, which is still on the air and its broadcast has been practically uninterrupted in these years. Then came ‘Spanish in the world’ (TVE) and ‘Viajeros Cuatro’. In addition, most of the regional televisions have created their own version to show what life is like for those who left their region and emigrated.

According to the television critic Borja Terán, these are liked because “they reinvented themselves in testimonial programs.” “Travel programs work because they seek the success of the aspirational, of the dream. To discover and that you want to be there ». In his opinion, the key to success is that they are “timeless” spaces with a “documentary tone” that work live and in their multiple reruns.

Now, with the health crisis and mobility restrictions around the world, many of the versions have had to reinvent themselves to adapt the format to Spanish destinations. This is what has happened with ‘Asturianos por el mundo’ (TPA) or ‘Viajeros Cuatro’. «They have focused on the closest reality, in our provinces. Which are sometimes more interesting. We always look at the farthest thing, “recalls the expert.

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