Scandi TV partnership to expand

SBS, TV2 Norway ally for savings, int'l acquisitions

AMSTERDAM — Scandinavian Broadcasting System and Norway’s biggest commercial channel, TV2 Norway, have confirmed they are in negotiations to expand their partnership to create a pan-Scandinavian alliance.

TV2 Norway already owns a 49% stake in SBS-affiliated network TvNorge, but the newest talks center on TV2 Norway taking minority stakes, most likely also a 49% share, in SBS Danish network TvDanmark and SBS Swedish channel Kanal 5.

The immediate benefit of such a pan-Nordic platform would be “increased negotiating power on the international acquisition front,” and “shared programming across the territories,” Finn Andreassen, programming director for TV2 Norway, told Daily Variety.

The Norwegian alliance of TV2 Norway and SBS has already resulted in considerable synergies and savings for both channels.

The deal, if it goes through, could have widespread implications. TV2’s backers are Norwegian print group Apressen, publishing giant Schibsted and Danish publisher Egmont. All own close to a one-third stake.

Schibsted also owns Sweden’s largest newspaper, Aftonbladet, a pack of TV production outfits in Sweden and Denmark, and stakes in TV in the Baltic States, a new area of expansion for Scandi companies.

Egmont is one of the biggest publishers in Europe, the biggest TV producer in Denmark, and it owns stakes in new Finnish commercial outfit Nelonen (Channel 4).

An SBS source and Andreassen both cautioned against reading too much into the talks. “It’s early days yet,” Andreassen said.

It is known that Egmont is eager to expand into broadcasting, but while the partnership with Schibsted works in Norway, it may not in other Scandi territories.

Both Egmont and Schibsted, through its 50% stake in the Sandrews Metronome Theatrical alliance, compete with each other fiercely in theatrical exhibition, distribution and acquisition across the Nordic states.

Egmont’s and Schibsted’s move to increase broadcast shares through TV2 Norway comes at a time when Scandi media companies are consolidating probably more than any other European players.