After TV2, Netflix and Viaplay have decided to halt the production of Danish films and series, following a dispute with unions regarding rights payment to artists and content creators.
The entire Danish production sector is in upheaval, and effects of the current crisis could have repercussions across the Nordic region.
In response to a framework agreement signed in January by the Danish Producers Association (Producentforeningen) and Create Denmark (umbrella regrouping actors, playwrights, directors’ associations among others) for 2022-2023, guaranteeing artists better remuneration from their works on streaming services, both Viaplay and Netflix have announced this week that they will stop the development of new fiction projects in Denmark.
In a letter sent June 3rd to the Danish Producers Association - leaked in the Danish news outlet Politiken-Netflix said: “It is with a heavy heart that we write to tell you that from today, we cannot order or develop new Danish films or series until further notice, due to challenges we have faced in clearing rights with the Danish unions”.
On Monday Viaplay followed suit, with an open letter sent by the Nordic streamer’s Content EVP & Chief Content Officer Filippa Wallestam to Create Denmark and the Producers Association (CLICK HERE).
Reminding the Danish signatories of Viaplay’s commitment to launch a minimum of 10 Danish fiction series and films in the coming years, Wallestam denounces in particular three points:
Wallestam also underlines that the agreement over artists payments comes on the heels of Denmark’s decision to introduce a 6% streaming tax, which “will mean that Denmark will end up as a low-priority market in relation to investments in local content”.
Inviting signatories of the agreement to find a short-term solution “for a small number of productions within the next 2-4 weeks”, Viaplay’s senior executive states that “until we have reached a sustainable agreement, we see no other way than to put the development of further Danish fiction projects on hold”.
A similar decision was taken as early as March by TV2 Denmark, (on behalf of its streamer TV2 Play) which in recent years, has become the biggest supplier of local fiction series with great success - SEE OUR STORY CLICK HERE.
Besides criticising the high level of rights remuneration (which could increase by up to 600% on larger productions according to TV2) the ‘opacity’ of rights remuneration distribution, the public broadcaster has also lambasted the signatories for not having consulted TV2 or informed them of the content of the agreement.
Reacting off the record to the streamers’ defiance, a spokesperson to Create Denmark said a renegotiation of the agreement might take a while. “We are talking about a collective bargaining agreement approved by the members of all  unions part of the deal, as well as the Danish Producers Association, so reconsidering what to do won’t be easy,” he told nordicfilmandtvews.com.
Meanwhile a few leading Danish producers have voiced their concerns, urging all parties to sit down and agree on a fast solution.
Louise Vesth, producer at Zentropa, which has a couple of series underway with TV2 (DNA season 2, Nikolaj Lie Kaas’s comedy Agent and Thomas Vinterberg’s upcoming Families Like Ours) sent us the following statement:
“The feedback [from the streamers] is clear: The paying parties do not want to pay the price set in the deal between Create Denmark and Producentforeningen. If you set your price too high and people stop buying your product, you need to lower your price or give them more for the money.”
Vesth continues: “As a producer (getting absolutely no money out of the deal!) it is easy to say, but also easy to see that we went too far. We have to remember that TV2, Viaplay, Netflix and all the other streamers covered by this deal, pay for the content, the salaries and even before we had a deal - lots of rights. Together with producers, they take the full financial risks. I am absolutely sure they will pay for the rights in the future as well. So let’s meet, connect the parties, and make a deal the buyers can live with.“
“In my opinion we need to make sure all talents get a fair salary and a known percentage of salary for rights – set and paid in the budget. As little as possible should be used for expensive administration on complex and confusing paying models run by organisations and streamers. All right payments should be paid directly to the talent. We need to find a fair price for salary and rights up front, to get us up-and-running, and then we can develop more complex deals from there-if really necessary.”
Piv Bernth, CEO, Creative and Executive Producer at Apple Tree Productions, currently working on Netflix’s series Baby Fever and TV2’s Chorus Girls said:
“The fact that all the relevant streamers, working in the Nordics including TV 2 Play, have stopped development and production of Danish fiction content, is disastrous for the local production environment. The Producers Association sincerely recommend that negotiations start up immediately. It has been clear for a while that the agreement would not work, so there is no time to waste. It is in the best interest for all the creatives and producers to get back to work as soon as possible”.
Tim King, EVP Productions at SF Studios said:
“The announcements of the last couple of days are a disaster for the all parts of the Danish Film and TV Industry – producers, streamers, creatives and production staff alike. We hope that all parties can find a solution as soon as possible for the short and long-term sake of the industry”.