Six Danish studios call for compromise to bring Denmark’s streaming crisis to an end; Viaplay seals short-term agreement with Create Denmark
- Cineuropa spoke to producer Peter Bose, one of the signatories of the open letter urging the parties to find a solution, and Roberta Alenius, of Viaplay
On 22 September, Danish studios Miso Film, SAM Productions, Apple Tree Productions, Nordisk Film, SF Studios and Tall & Small published an open letter calling on the major streamers (including Netflix and Viaplay), Create Denmark and the Danish Producers Association to come to an agreement on the ongoing dispute over on-demand rights remuneration paid to audiovisual workers.
As reported by Cineuropa in June (see the news), the crisis began following the 6% streaming levy introduced by the government on 22 May, which led players such as TV2, Netflix and Viaplay to halt productions, causing a great deal of concern.
The letter, published by nordiskfilmogtvfond.com, states that, since January, “The streaming services have not greenlit any new development or production of TV series or films […]. The Danish Producers Association, supported by the largest producers, has worked with Create Denmark to agree on a framework agreement for more than five years.”
Although the negotiations were “prolonged and complicated”, at the end of last year, a deal was finally sealed. The agreement was, however, rejected by all streaming services and prompted the crisis, which “does not only affect producers, but also impacts crews and suppliers, as well as the creatives – scriptwriters, directors, actors, directors of photography, production designers and editors – whose interests are handled by Create Denmark”.
Calling for “compromises in order to move on and recover”, the signatories add that “Netflix, TV2, Viaplay, HBO Max and other streamers contribute with a turnover in the Danish market of 1 billion Danish crowns [circa €135 million] in a ‘normal’ year” and that “the end of 2022 is approaching, and the turnover we will lose this year and in the coming years due to this conflict is [immense],” thus “it will take years to regain momentum”. The total loss, they argue, will reach a minimum of 1-1.5 billion Danish crowns, resulting in “bankruptcies, firings, unemployment and a film industry that is knocked back several years”.
Cineuropa spoke to one of the signatories, Peter Bose, of Miso Film, who explained that the estimate of 1-1.5 billion Danish crowns is “based on the number of productions produced in Denmark every year” and that “it varies from 15-20 across the streamers, with average budgets of 50 million crowns [circa €6.7 million]. […] This is where we end up after one or two years,” he added.
When asked about the possible actions the players at stake should be taking, Bose answered: “The Danish Producers Association and we producers don’t have any real influence on the agreement, nor do we receive any compensation. My advice was, and still is, to get the parties around the table and to discuss the agreement from where we are today. This will also mean that both parties and, first and foremost, Create Denmark shall accept that the level of the payment needs to go down. We are in the middle of a financial crisis with increasing interest rates, inflation, a recession and so on. The streamers are fighting to keep their subscribers, rather than increasing their numbers. What is most important in a household: electricity, food or a streaming service?”
The signatories also point out that other countries, including Sweden, have reached agreements that are keeping rights holders satisfied. We asked why this was not happening in Denmark. “This is the million-dollar question. First of all, we don’t know the [details of the] agreement between Netflix and Scen & Film [Sweden’s union for film and theatre workers], as it’s highly confidential. However, my guess is that Create Denmark believes that the compensation in the Swedish agreement is low compared to what they’ve been paid previously,” Bose concluded.
We also reached out to Roberta Alenius, Viaplay Group’s head of Corporate Communications, so that she could have her say: “We understand the frustration expressed in the open letter and share the producers’ concern about the impact that the current situation may have on the long-term investment climate in Denmark. However, it is important to say that Viaplay Group has recently concluded a short-term agreement with Create Denmark, and we have proactively been able to move the negotiations forward together.
“There remains the question of a long-term agreement that, together with the Danish legislative proposal for a so-called cultural contribution, or streaming levy, will be important in determining how attractive it will be to invest in Danish content in the future.
“We love producing Danish content, and we want to find sustainable and long-term solutions that benefit the entire ecosystem, in relation to both the agreement and the cultural contribution, or streaming levy. We therefore look forward to constructive dialogue with the relevant organisations and policymakers in the ongoing negotiations.”
Watch this space.
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