Scandi shingle invests in hot Polish biz

Scandinavian production and distribution outfit Zodiak Television World has acquired a 35% stake in Polish production company Zebra Media Poland, the latest in a series of incursions by Western European media companies into the Polish biz.

Following Endemol and Fremantle, which both have footholds in Poland, Zodiak aims to develop a permanent presence in the country. Until now Zodiak has had production centers in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

“We always act locally and we want to help a small Polish company grow into a very large Polish company,” said Zodiak topper Patrick Svensk. “I have high hopes that via their local presence and Zodiak’s portfolio of rights, we will be able to expand activities considerably during the next few years. Growth in the Polish territory is one of the fastest in Europe with the market remaining partly unstructured and immature.”

Poland is the third biggest cable and satellite market in Europe with more than half of Polish homes hooked up.

Svensk says that Zebra aims to produce for the top three broadcasters — pubcaster TVP and the privately owned TVN and Polsat.

Zodiak’s biggest international success so far has been “The Big Class Reunion” and Svensk says he hopes that Zodiak will be able to further exploit formats in Poland. “But obviously it’s up to our Polish management to decide what works in Poland and what doesn’t.”

Zebra and Zodiak have been working together as co-production partners throughout 2005 and Zebra produced a turnover of e2 million ($2.4 million). Their joint productions include “Surprise, Surprise” and “Patience of Angel” for TVN and TVP.

Zebra will change its name to Mastiff Media Poland as part of the Zodiak group, which already includes Mastiff Media Denmark, MTV Mastiff Sweden and MTV Mastiff Norway, and Jarowskij outfits in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

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