Nordic viewers ready for widescreen digital

Modern Times launch gives Canal first real competish

OSLO – Buyers in the Nordic territories, when they are not desperately chasing up interactive and Web-related content, will be on the hunt for widescreen programming.

The launch Sept. 1 of Modern Times Group’s direct-to-home platform gave Nordic DTH player Canal Digital its first real competition for digital deliverance in the region.

On top of that, Finland firmed up its date to launch its digital terrestrial platform next August, and Sweden promised to put some teeth into its own pallid digital terrestrial offering.

The upshot is a rush by techno-crazy Nordic viewers for widescreen TV and an expected scurrying by TV buyers to find appropriate programming.

NRK 2 will begin broadcasting in 16-by-9 widescreen in October.

Says chief buyer for fiction drama Aka Kallqvist, “We’ve actually been trying very hard to buy widescreen for some time now” for the channel’s Monday evening movie slot.

It already has 11 widescreen pics skedded but Kallqvist wants more, noting, “I’ve told our distributors they can deliver ordinary feature films in anamorphic form, but I still have to keep asking several times. It’s puzzling.”

The recent reorganization of NRK has resulted in a division called NRK Future, which is looking into new streams of revenue through Internet rights, and NRK buyers will also have that division’s wish list for multiple platform content to keep in mind.

Widescreen will also be on the minds of Denmark’s Nordisk Film TV buyers, although no specific channel plans are driving the hunt.

Managing director Jesper Klit says Nordisk Film TV itself has been trying to make multiple-platform content but says acquisitions execs will be on the hunt for it.

“Frankly, if we buy anything at all at Mipcom, it must be able to play across multiple platforms,” adds Klit.

While Mervi Ruovinen, new head of acquisitions for MTV3 and sister channel TVTV, will be on the lookout for some digital content for MTV3 parent company Alma Media’s new asymmetric digital subscriber line channel, her general brief may be music to the ears of distribs with just plain old-fashioned programming: She’s looking for as much as 3,000 hours of content.

“We launched TVTV in February as a basic cable channel and, frankly, we don’t have much programming. We’re looking for science fiction, oldies but goldies like ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ as well as European comedies.”

MTV3 will be launching its digital City TV channel next year and Ruovinen adds that she wants to huddle with studio execs and producers about supplying content for that channel as well.

After what he calls a miserable Finnish summer, give public broadcaster YLE head of acquisitions for TV2 Timo Tuovinen some sun on the Croisette and a bit of edgy lifestyle programming and he’d be a happy man.

“A good series on sports and doping, human tragedies, wealth, fame, failures…I’d buy it right away,” he says.

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