Indie Rogues Stir Up Waters

A band of ex-employees of Danish powerhouse Nordisk Film is expected to start up a new company late next year to rival Nordisk and split the Scandi indie production market wide open.

The renegade launch is considered serious enough that it has already lost Nordisk its multimillion-dollar output deal with Danish state commercial channel TV2. TV2 head of program acquisitions Bo Damgaard confirmed to Variety the annual $15 million, 300-hour contract will not be renewed when it expires next year because TV2 wants a free hand to deal with the new competition.

Damgaard confirmed that Nordisk, which controls some 55% of all indie production in Denmark, was performing on schedule, but added he was delighted over the new turn of events. Said Damgaard, “The Nordisk monopoly in this region is over. We won’t be making any more output deals, only programming contracts.”

Reports of the new launch have been rife in the industry for months following the abrupt firing in August of Nordisk chief operating officer Jens Jordan by parent group Egmont and the subsequent protest walkouts of up to a dozen top TV and film managers.

The rival outfit is expected to be founded by Eric Stephensen, former managing director of Nordisk Film Broadcast, who took with him nearly all of the major players in his department when he quit to protest Jordan’s firing.

Clause and effect

Many of those who walked are bound by a competition clause to desist for one year from any plans to launch against Nordisk, but Stephensen told Variety he would be starting up a new business after the expiration of that clause with former Nordisk Film and Broadcast toppers Peter Herforth and Joergen Koldbaek. “Obviously,” said Stephensen, “we have no plans to go into the laundry business.”

Jordan refuses comment on future plans, but is widely expected to be in on any major new launch against Nordisk. Jordan said he is still “completely puzzled” over his sudden dismissal by Egmont CEO Jan Froshaug.

Froshaug is flatly denying allegations by Jordan and others in the industry that the shakeup has badly crippled Nordisk. “This company has not lost one single hour of production over this matter,” he said.

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