Tomáš Vojáček; Source: FTV Prima


25. 3. 202425. 3. 2024
The graphic concept of news coverage and the continuous broadcasting of CNN Prima News is one of the essential factors that motivate viewers to watch the station, say Tomáš Vojáček and Petr Závorka.

CNN Prima News has introduced a new graphic design for its news and continuous broadcasts after mid-February. The changes include a new studio layout, including the jingles of each programme. The graphic changes were fine-tuned by Prima’s graphics and production team in cooperation with the editorial team and the U.S. CNN over several months. We talked to the station’s editor-in-chief Tomáš Vojáček and the head of the graphics department Petr Závorka about the graphic changes, the new news concept and CNN Prima News’ plans.

You have said that the graphic design is based on the concept that CNN Prima News used for the election specials last year and that you consulted the new graphic concept with U.S. CNN. How much of the need for the redesign of the newscast came from the internal requirements of CNN Prima News and how much was an initiative from the U.S. CNN?

Tomáš Vojáček: This is purely our activity. We have said for a long time that our intention is not just to cover news as a list of events but primarily to show these events as they impact people in this country and affect their lives. The graphic design has to be adapted to this. I mean that news graphics must constantly evolve according to the needs and current developments. The current times are very dynamic. That is why we started to add graphic elements to give the viewer the necessary context. And we also want to have a clear, snappy graphic presentation that is in line with modern trends. In the continuous CNN Prima News broadcast, we have increased the graphic elements, and we are asking the presenters to work more actively with the graphics. We don’t want to have one presenter just standing by the graphics and saying something. That is what we think U.S. CNN is best at, and that is why we consult on these things and try to use what we can.

If you were to describe the basic changes to the visual concept, which ones would you highlight?

Tomáš Vojáček: We use full-space displays, we don’t use so many additional materials, and we included a light background to make the whole presentation cleaner and clearer. We take care to offer the audience as much visual information as they can read. We are mainly concerned with the interactivity of the graphics and the ability to involve one or both presenters. We show the facts on one display and offer a more detailed view using a magic wall where we work with the presenters and experts in the studio. They explain the information and add context. This concept is based on our electoral studies, we started working with it in the local government elections and further used it in the presidential elections. That is where our transition began, where we started using the way we broadcast specials in our daily operations and our daily newscasts. Because we see that it has resonated with the audience. It doesn’t mean that we weren’t happy with the graphics we were using, but we are responding to the change in the concept of news.

One thing is the graphic design of the newscasts and continuous coverage of CNN Prima News, and the other thing is the graphic design you chose for the special coverage of the U.S. elections in early March. How are the two related?

Petr Závorka: We have said before that our intention is to gradually clean up the graphics. This is in line with what Tomáš Vojáček describes. I am glad that we can use the graphics to the full width of the format without a hitch, and that the presenters have been able to get to grips with it. It is not easy to move around in the studio without spoiling the visual experience. At the same time, it has to be said that there is a big visual and colour difference between the special graphics and the continuous broadcast graphics. The graphics for the U.S. election Super Tuesday were deliberately made to be as close as possible to the original U.S. CNN graphics. Therefore, it was very colourful with 3D elements and we used a lot of graphics in the broadcast. We have not used such a large number of templates before. In contrast, our continuous broadcast and news session graphics have moved more into lighter colours, we have brightened up the studio and the graphic design is cleaner. We are moving with the times, trying to adapt to trends, visual clarity and the fact that viewers have bigger and bigger screens.

Tomáš Vojáček: At the same time, we added branding. CNN Prima News has already established its position in the market and people know us. Special projects help us a lot because they attract the attention of people who then stay and watch our channel on a daily basis.

Will you want to change anything else about the graphics of the newscast and the continuous broadcast? Or are these final adjustments for the near future?

Petr Závorka: We can indicate that we want to focus on the news bar, among other things. We have already tried some things in the Super Tuesday election, particularly in the way the data went into the news feed. We are going to do that in the Slovak election special as well. We also want to look at the bottom bar with regard to the graphic redesign, with which we are satisfied.


How binding are the graphic manuals of the U.S. CNN for you? Do you have to follow them when considering a change in graphics?

Petr Závorka: We are not bound by anything, not even by colour. We consult with the representatives of the U.S. CNN about the things we like in the graphic concept of CNN. It inspired us to move to lighter colours, to a cleaner design and the way of working with graphics. In the case of the U.S. election coverage, we were the first to have the same design as the Americans. We will continue with other specials, now it is the Slovak presidential election we have already mentioned. This allows us to separate the design specials and the continuous daily broadcasts.

Tomáš Vojáček: This is also based on the content we offer to the audience. Electoral systems are different in different countries, and the dynamics of American elections are different from those of Czech or Slovak elections. However, what they have in common is relevance, presenting verified facts or working with data, which is supported by the graphics. Therefore, for the Slovak elections, we will adapt the bar to the one we presented, but it is not possible to change it 100%. It also depends on how fast the data arrives - in Slovakia, it is updated after ten minutes, while in the Czech Republic, it is every minute. So, it is not the same, but you can work with it in a way that is similar to the U.S. election.

Petr Závorka: Not everything can be converted one-to-one because our displays have different aspect ratios. So, we have to adapt to our displays. In addition, American design does not have to take into account the diacritics, we have to deal with it, which is not easy. Here I would like to acknowledge our two main designers, Václav Bígl and Václav Žemla, who have successfully replicated the American design in such a short time.

As you stated, you intend to convert the style of the specials to a continuous broadcast. Is that feasible for the daily news? It is a different format, isn’t it?

Tomáš Vojáček: It is definitely possible to convert it, but more within the framework of continuous broadcasting because the main news shows are specific genres in the Czech Republic. With continuous broadcasting, we changed not only the graphics but the whole opening shot - our presenters are standing, the graphics are moving behind them, it is interspersed with synchronisation. In general, it is more dynamic and more immersive for the audience. In the Main News (Hlavní zprávy), we have made the jingles more intertwined with the graphics throughout the channel. Also, in the case of the Main News, we use full-format graphics, so the presentation of the data is similar to the continuous broadcast.

Petr Závorka: I would add to the graphics of the Main News that after four years since we launched the jingles from the American studio Renderon, there is practically none left today. The design of the whole station is now completely made in-house. Most of it was simply redesigned and updated as needed. We developed a clock theme in the Main News jingle, which we may work with in the future if we update the jingle further.

Did you make changes to the graphics based on information coming from the audience or how do you take into account the audiences perception?

Tomáš Vojáček: We are tracking how our viewership is evolving not only from official measurements but also from a number of our internal surveys. That is why we knew that cleaner, clearer graphics was one of the things viewers expected from us.

Petr Závorka: It is also important to note that the results of audience perception research are evolving and that audience expectations today are different from those of years ago.

Tomáš Vojáček: Consider what the company has been through. When I came to CNN Prima News at the turn of 2019/2020, it was the pre-COVID period. What followed were two years of heavy COVID, when people’s perceptions were changing and the demand for numbers and graphs became evident in the news. They became an essential part of our lives. Then came the war in Ukraine, followed by the economic crisis, and viewers were back to watching something else. It is natural that the news coverage and its concept have changed because it reflects social developments.

You have already used augmented reality (AR) in your broadcasts several times. Will you count on it in the future?

Petr Závorka: We are still using augmented reality in our news, and we are trying to accelerate its use in daily news, which means getting it ready for broadcasting in a short amount of time. And secondly, we seek to use augmented reality in live broadcasts. Pre-recording and live broadcasting are two different things.

Tomáš Vojáček: We use AR on objects that are otherwise difficult for viewers to imagine, unusual and hard to grasp, and hard to explain. For example, we used augmented reality to showcase the lost submarine Titan, which we were able to do live and get on air very quickly.

I assume the changes you have made are intended to increase viewership. Who are the viewers of CNN Prima News and how are they profiled in each region of the country?

Tomáš Vojáček: We want to have all audiences; we don’t target a specific group. We see that audiences come especially when something is happening. Compared to previous years, these increases are significantly sharper. This was well seen, for example, in the numbers of the last election night specials for the Slovak and American elections, where we managed to get to values that we could hardly imagine when the station started. In the case of the American special broadcast on the night of 5/6 March, we outperformed even our competitor ČT24 in the time from midnight to 5:45 a.m., with the average share in the 18-69 age group surpassing 6%. We are convinced that the visual concept is also absolutely crucial for viewers of all categories to tune in to CNN Prima News, not only to watch specials. However, it is true that we also believe that graphic appeal can attract younger viewers who do not consume TV as much or watch it on other platforms.

CNN Prima News monthly viewership share has been just under 2% since the beginning of the year - 1.96% in January and 1.86% in February. Will it manage to break the 2% mark this year?

Tomáš Vojáček: I believe so, and I believe we are not far off. Some days we are already getting over 2% in the 15+ audience. And we are well above 2% in the specials.


He has been News and Journalism Editor-in-Chief in CNN Prima News since the summer of 2023. He joined CNN Prima News in 2019, and as Head of Broadcasting he was involved in the launch of the CNN Prima News multi-platform, being responsible for the television’s continuous news coverage and the development of the station’s main projects, including election specials. Prior to joining Prima, he worked for four years as the head of Střepiny on TV Nova, where he started as a reporter.

PETR ZÁVORKA, head of graphics department, FTV PRIMA
He started his professional career as a television graphic designer at Prima TV in 2007. Then he moved to a graphic design position at UPP. After two years, he returned to Prima, working as a senior graphic designer for more than four years. Subsequently, he became the art director of TV stations ČT24 and ČT sport. After five and a half years at Česká televize, he has been working as head of the graphics department of FTV Prima’s news since 2019.

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