How to win a Prix CIRCOM award... well, maybe

There are no easy answers on how to maximise your chances of winning an award. These few words are offered by me as chairman of the judges over many years as result of the experience gained.

Neither I nor CIRCOM Regional can be held responsible if you enter and fail having followed these suggestions. That is because the judges change every year, tastes change every year and the competing programmes change every year. No two years are identical. No guidance can ensure success.



Pick your category carefully
The toughest category is without doubt “Documentary”. The judges probably see 20 programmes which are of superb standard. Your chances of winning in this category are far lower than in other categories. Check out the possibility of entering other categories, even if your programme is in documentary form.


Read the judges’ reports
Every year, a very substantial document is produced in which the judges’ comments on each programme are set out. They give superb clues on what the judges are looking for, what impresses them and even what annoys them. Also, every year, the chair of each category makes comments about the range of programmes submitted. These also give very strong indicators of weaknesses in submitted programmes and hopes for the following year. About half the judges from last year’s judging will attend the following year, so their views could still be influential.
Prix CIRCOM Jury Reports from past years are available on THIS PAGE


Target your efforts
With the above information, you could start looking usefully at categories such as Most Original and Innovative and Rising Star – or maybe the new category of Entertainment. They attract fewer entries than, say, Documentary and judges are always looking in these categories for new faces and new ideas. There are many missed opportunities!


Try a new category
Categories usually take a little time to be noticed by entrants, so attract fewer entries in the first year especially. Keep your eyes open for changes in categories and be among the first to enter.


Good story in a bad programme?
The category of News Report on a European Issue can take some of the strain off trying to find a programme which is made up of a series of good items. It is often the case that news programmes have one good story only. The category is looking for one, single, special report (of less than 5 minutes). This might make an attractive alternative – but do make sure the story has some wide, European relevance.


Trust in youth
The Rising Star category is a great opportunity to parade talent and encourage young on-screen talent. In recent years, the entries have been fewer than hoped – so the category offers a great chance of giving you a winning chance. Take it and enter!


Avoid travelogues
These may make popular and easy viewing in your region. But the judges almost always demand something more challenging as a category winner. The travelogues may have beautiful scenery and the station may be very proud of its region – but this is not enough. Good characters may improve such programmes but the quality of storytelling is often missing.


Avoid re-fighting old battles
Like travelogues, history programmes can be a core part of regional television as a region’s history is explored in the tensions (and often atrocities) of the past. However, there are many of these programmes presented to the judges and they often fail to be distinctive. They can make interesting historical reflections and essential regional viewing - but do not often produce winners.


Add helpful background information
The judges do read the supporting information carefully. This offers a great chance to argue the case for your programme. You can explain why it is significant in your station’s history or output; or why it was so difficult to produce; or the impact it had; or even other awards it has won.


Read the category criteria and the Rules carefully
If you are disqualified, it is often because you have failed to fulfil the requirements of the criteria or the rules. It is pointless, as one region did, to seek to enter a programme without subtitles. The rules are clear and are there because it is impossible for judges to speak every language in Europe: we have to create a common language. Nor does it help to enter but say that rights issues prevent any agreement to transmission by CIRCOM members should you be a winner. Check first that rights are available as required by the Rules of Entry.


If you have a query, ask
Once the competition is launched, I cannot give advice beyond these words. I will, however, explain any rules which you do not understand clearly.


Good luck and best wishes, 
David Lowen

President PRIX CIRCOM Regional and Chair of the Judges