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Sputnik set to take to the air

Service includes Home Cinema which offers hundreds of pix

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

The service will begin delivering TV2 content on demand on 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 the beginning of what could become a 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 for the license. A short list for license applicants will be issued in mid-December.

For a monthly fee of 6.5 Krones ($8.40), Danish viewers will have 24/7 access to a selection of programs — including news, music, sports, current affairs and drama — from TV2/Danmark.

The Home Cinema service will offer new, classic, local and international films titles, “meaning subscribers will have their own video rental store at their fingertips,” according to Kenneth Plummer, president of Nordisk Film.

Plummer told Variety Nordisk Film had a library of several thousand titles, all cleared for on-demand rights, and it planned to step up sourcing of movies from other rights holders. 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 project that will pave the way for how media is used in the future. Viewers will become independent of our traditional programming schedules,” he adds.

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