Stefan Piëch (51) grew up in one of the best-known entrepreneurial families in Europe, the Piëch-Porsche-Clan, major shareholder of Volkswagen. His great-grandfather founded Porsche, Uncle Ferdinand was head of the VW supervisory board until 2015.
Piëch himself sits on the supervisory board of Porsche and the VW subsidiary Seat. He is a media entrepreneur. Instead of cars, the father of four produces children’s programs such as “Fix und Foxi” or “Albert says, Albert asks” with the company “Your Family Entertainment AG” (YFE).
The company plays on the two television stations “Fix & Foxi” and “RiC” and, according to its own information, has the largest stock for children and youth programs in German-speaking Europe.
The US entertainment group “Genius Brands” is now taking a stake in YFE. Together they want to produce new content and expand into other countries.
In an interview with BILD, Piëch explains what makes good children’s television for him, how his job causes conflicts with his children and why good children’s series are needed even in times of social media.
Interview with Stefan Piëch
BILD: Mr. Piëch, what made you decide to make television for children?
Stefan Piëch: “I have always been fascinated by film and television. I’ve been handling cameras since I was 14 years old. I later studied film and media studies and have been active in the film industry in Munich ever since. I got married in 2005 and now I have four children. I am therefore only too familiar with the situation where children want to see something that parents consider absolutely pointless – I think many parents struggle with that today. It is therefore very important to me that children can watch meaningful programs. “
What do you value in your programs?
Piëch: “The idea behind our productions can be summarized in three aspects: no violence, parental affinity, with educational requirements. These principles go back to Ravensburger AG, the oldest children’s book publisher in the world. We have taken over its DNA. For us, educational means: We don’t make a learning program, but try to enrich children with historical knowledge or exciting facts. One example of this is the children’s program, Albert says, Albert asks, which deals with the formation of the earth and the solar system. “
Why do you think these values are important?
Piëch: “Between the ages of three and 18, children spend around 23,000 hours in front of the screens. These hours can be spent sensibly or less sensibly. Good content, as I want to do it, is well told, contains reliable role models and has a positive effect on character formation. Children are our future, the core of our future society, so we need to pay close attention to what we show them on television.
We all grew up with Star Wars. When you consider that preschoolers are already looking at this today, something is obviously going wrong. For me it is clear: ‘War is no star’. That shapes my understanding of good children’s television. “
The Internet now plays a bigger role than television in the media use of many children.
Piëch: “In public broadcasting, there was an educational mandate, clearly delimited content for children and adults. This is no longer possible with free internet access, which causes problems. “
What kind of problems do you mean?
“The current media landscape works on the basis of two phenomena: On the one hand, there are so-called clickbaits, i.e. baits that are intended to entice you to click on certain things. On the other hand, there are echo rooms in which you permanently surround yourself only with representatives of your own opinion. These two phenomena contribute to the division of our society. “
What role does the pandemic play in this?
“The screen time of many children has increased due to Corona. During the pandemic, everyone understood that digital devices can also be a useful tool, for example to keep school lessons going. At the same time, the demand for well-made children’s entertainment that is enriching and safe is increasing. I think that the conscious consumption and the conscious selection of content is one of the greatest challenges of today’s information age. “
What are you hoping for Genius Brands to participate?
“With Genius Brands we have found a partner who shares our principles for good children’s television and who also wants to make ‘content with a purpose’. We join forces with the concern to produce meaningful content for children. Together we want to build new channels, for example in social media. This also gives us the opportunity to expand further geographically. “