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Duo launch Sputnik broadband unit

Denmark service to commence Dec. 1

Scandinavian powerhouse Nordisk Film and Denmark’s largest commercial channel TV2/Danmark have partnered together to deliver TV2 Sputnik, the first broadband-on-demand TV service in Denmark.

The service will begin delivering TV2 content on demand as of Dec. 1, with a Home Cinema offering hundreds of feature films from Nordisk Film, including international and U.S. fare, set to launch in February.

To Scandi media watchers, it is clearly the beginning of what could become a beautiful and lucrative friendship.

The Danish government has finally cleared some of the major obstacles to privatizing TV2/Danmark after nearly two years of political horse trading, and the Egmont group, the owner of Nordisk Film, is considered the odds-on favorite candidate for the license. A short list for license applicants will be issued in mid-December.

For a monthly paybox fee of x6.5 ($8.40), Danish viewers will have unlimited 24/7 access to a fat selection of popular programs — including news, music, sports, current affairs and drama — from TV2/Danmark.

Kenneth Plummer, president of Nordisk Film, called the broadband service a Danish “killer solution.” The Home Cinema service will offer new, classic, local and international films titles 24/7, “meaning subscribers will have their own video rental store at their fingertips.”

Plummer told Daily Variety Nordisk Film had a library of several thousand indie titles, all cleared for on- demand rights, and it planned to step up sourcing of movie content from other rights holders. “This is the leading film and TV company in Denmark putting together a killer solution that offers one stop on-demand entertainment online for consumers,” he said.

At launch, viewers who want to see TV2 Sputnik on a TV rather than computer monitor will need a cable PC linkup until set-top boxes are available in mid-2005. One-third of all homes in Denmark have broadband Internet connections, and the percentage is growing monthly.

TV2/Danmark managing director Peter Parbo called Sputnik a “groundbreaking space-age project that will pave the way for how media is used in the future. Viewers will become totally independent of our traditional programming schedules,” he added. The channel, whose stock is owned by Danish government state companies, has consistently taken audience shares over the past decade ranging between 35% and 43%.

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