- Interview -
Christopher Baldelli and his positive waves
Christopher Baldelli is a successful man. At the end of 2017, he was appointed Vice-President of the Executive Board of the M6 Group, in charge of radio and news. For the past ten years, this ultra-talented media specialist has directed and maintained RTL at the top of the most listened-to French radio station rankings. Drawing 6.5 million listeners daily presents a challenge but he manages it with flying colors. Curiosity is a positive character trait in this discreet high achiever.
The theme of our magazine is excellence. What does this mean to you?
Excellence is more than a result, it is a purpose. It is achieved through a dynamic of perpetual self-improvement. When it comes to radio, listeners must have the feeling that all the content offered is excellent.
How is radio doing generally?
Radio – the media – is doing very well despite the digital revolution and for several reasons. Firstly, it is a non-exclusive media, since one can listen to the radio while doing other things at the same time, but it is also very responsive. Moreover, radio has a very personal dimension bound up with emotions. Through voice, one creates a very powerful connection with the listener.
How do you explain RTL’s success?
RTL is a radio station for everyone. In addition, we want to always bring added value to our listeners. By listening to us, they will have learnt something or had a good laugh. Our aim is to ensure that RTL is never pointless.
How do you maintain the group’s creativity?
That’s the tough part. One has to innovate constantly. If we had the same programs as we did ten years ago, we wouldn’t have the same listening success. Over the past decade, we have changed the entire program schedule. The shareholders are no longer the same and M6 has acquired RTL. Another strong point is that our work, backed by appropriate marketing and communication, has given RTL a more modern image.
What kind of manager are you?
We are a content-driven company, yet we must avoid a dichotomy between management and content. Today, one can only produce good programs if one is in total control of one’s finances. I have been working in the media industry for nearly 20 years and even though in the beginning I was a manager in the more general sense of the term, I swiftly became involved in editorial choices. The two go hand in hand.
With the new stakeholders such as Netflix, Amazon and others, do you think television has a future?
Television has always been challenged. This began with Pay TV and has continued with a whole range of different options, as well as by the marked increase in competition due to the many channels that have come into being.Today, the platforms you mention are indeed the latest revolution, but the power of television is still very strong. Channels such as M6 have been able to react by suggesting to the public that they either watch their programs live or on catch-up. Channels are aware of audiences’ tastes and are able to produce pertinent, effective content. Most of them have thus gone from being simple publishers to producers, but they still need to work on this. Such an approach enables one to maintain a positive view of the future.
From a personal perspective, do you find any particular appeal in watching programs on these new platforms?
Not specially. They have a distinctive characteristic that should never be overlooked. Their strength is globalization – the fact that they can broadcast their programs all over the world. But when you look at the performance of these series by country, it isn’t actually that great. In addition, when a big channel decides to gamble on one of these series, it often does not achieve the expected audience on television. They are niche series, but the international dimension enables them to achieve good scores. It is in this regard that they have a very specific model.
What do you find fascinating about the media industry?
Reaching millions of people through a program is something amazing and powerful, which definitely appeals to me. Moreover, the media world is constantly developing in step with successive technological, economic and cultural revolutions. It is never boring.
Based on an interview by Anouk Julien-Blanco
Photos © Nicolas Gouhier / Sipa Press / RTL