In an open letter Miso Film, SAM Productions, Apple Tree Productions, Nordisk Film, SF Studios, Tall & Small are urging parties involved in a dispute over on-demand rights payment to compromise.
As reported earlier by nordiskfilmandtvnews.com (see story CLICK HERE) the on-going dispute between the major streamers (including Netflix) on one side, the umbrella organisation Create Denmark (representing actors, directors among others) and the Danish Producers Association over on-demand rights remuneration of audiovisual workers, is still unresolved and costing the Danish industry heavy financial, creative and structural damages.
“A decimation of half of the industry is not unrealistic” say the major production groups, most of them active on a pan-Nordic level and behind major Danish hits on global streamers such as Borgen, The Chestnut Man, The Rain, Equinox, Chosen and Face to face.
The crisis comes on top of the 6% streaming levy introduced in May by the Danish government, which has further antagonised the US platforms, Viaplay and TV2 Denmark's service TV2 Play.
Here is the joint open letter in full, sent today to nordicfilmantvnews.com by the six heavyweight production groups:
OPEN LETTER, 22. September 2022
Serious and long crises in the Danish film & TV-series business
2022 has been a disastrous year for the Danish film & TV-series business. The worst ever. And 2023 might be even worse. From being one of the most productive and leading countries within development and production of quality series and films to both streaming services and broadcasters, we have now come to a full stop.
Since January, the streaming services have not greenlit new development or production of tv series or films, and there is no sign this will change in the coming months.
The reason why we are in this situation is, that the parties, with Create Denmark on the one hand, and the streaming services (Netflix, Viaplay1, TV 22, HBO Max3, Disney+, Amazon Prime a.o.) on the other side are unable to agree on a rights agreement that set terms and scope of payment for the transfer of rights from the creative talent.
The Danish Producers Association, supported by the largest producers, worked with Create Denmark to agree on a framework agreement for more than five years. The negotiations were prolonged and complicated. At the end of 2021 a deal was finally struck. A deal which we, from the producer side, saw as the art of the possible, but knew was extremely expensive for the streaming services. The agreement was rejected by all streaming services and has now been formally terminated by both sides.
That we now, nine months into the year still have no solution is not just a financial disaster, but also an irresponsible behaviour towards the Danish film industry as a whole. The positive momentum from before the conflict has been lost.
The misfortune does not only touch producers, but also crews and suppliers, as well as the creatives; script writers, directors, actors, directors of photography, production designers and editors - whose interests are handled by Create Denmark.
Netflix, TV 2, Viaplay, HBO Max and other streamers contribute with a turnover in the Danish market of DKK 1 bill [approx €135Million*] in a ”normal” year. The end of 2022 is approaching and the turnover we lose this year and in the coming years due to this conflict is of course lost. Not just for producers, but also for the crews, suppliers, and creatives in the industry.
Best case is that it will take years to regain that momentum from the day a solution is in place. The total loss will therefore as a minimum reach DKK 1-1,5 bill., [approx €135M - €200M*] which are lost to the industry.
A loss of income of that magnitude will result in bankruptcies, firings, unemployment and a film industry that is knocked back several years. From full steam ahead, a high demand for labour and positive, upwards trends to a full stop.
Why – what’s at stake?
Create Denmark has demanded the introduction of principles that do not exist anywhere else in the world, and which the streaming services will not accept. In addition, there is the question of payment level – not a choice between “a little” and “a bit more”, but between “a lot” and “even more”.
But now we need compromises. So we can move on, and recover.
As producers, we have no vested financial interests in the agreements that need to be negotiated between Create Denmark and the streaming services, as we are not parties to the agreements. Our only wish is therefore that agreements are reached which are financially balanced and sustainable for both the creatives and the streaming services. Without agreements, no production. No production, no jobs. No jobs, no rights payments.
Danish content is expensive. The rights payments that have been agreed to historically were also expensive, compared to other countries, and already reflected good terms for the creatives, the rights holders.
The streaming services have other options. Not TV2, as they have a legal obligation to order Danish content. All other streamers can invest in content from other countries which is less expensive or where the terms are not contradictory to the streamer business models.
No other countries are in the same situation that we are in in Denmark.
All other places have working agreements and terms. It is possible to reach agreements that the rights holders are happy with - as we can see in neighbouring Sweden, where the union Scen & Film recently has expanded a previously agreed to, and thus well tested, rights agreement covering tv series to also cover feature films.
The long-term consequences, if this situation continues, may be more serious than any of us wish to see. A decimation of half of the industry is not unrealistic. And this at a time, where we, together, were growing more than ever. The damage is done. The consequences are already bad enough, and we have not even seen their full extent yet.
We sincerely wish to encourage all parties to negotiate with a will to compromise, so deals can be made. And it is urgent. It must happen now, in order to limit the damages, so we can, once again, produce Danish quality content.
On behalf of:
Peter Bose, CEO, Miso Film, Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen, CEO, SAM Productions, Lars Hermann, Partner & COO, Apple Tree Productions, Katrine Vogelsang, CEO, Nordisk Film Production, Lars Bjørn Hansen, Country Manager, SF Studios and Christian Potalivo, Producer & CEO, Tall & Small.
1-Viaplay entered an interim agreement 22.7.22 which expires in 3 months.
2-TV 2 has a ‘qualification list” from 2001 with productions that can be started - but without a rights agreement.
3-HBO Max has since the merger between Warner Bros and Discovery closed its original productions in the Nordics.
* Conversion of DKK to Euros as of 22.09.2022