Annual report 2020 – 2021

PREFACE: Nordic cooperation defied the coronavirus

Against all odds, and in spite of all coronavirus-related obstacles, 2020 was the second-best year in the partnership’s history in terms of the number of Nordic co-productions. In total, we co-produced more than 2,200 programme episodes and completed more than 260 projects and TV series.

Children’s drama, adult drama, youth drama and factual series are currently the main areas of collaboration. In strategic terms, it is important that we focus our content collaborations on the kind of content which also has top priority for the partners. Viewed from this angle, 2020 did not become the year of crisis we might have feared.

2020 was the second-best year in the partnership’s history with regard to the number of Nordic co-productions.

A direct result is that we work together to strengthen the Nordic collaboration on children’s TV even further, currently using the working title Barn14 (B14). Nordic collaboration on children’s TV is unparalleled in the world when it comes to volume, quality, content sharing, formats and knowledge exchange.

Together, we stand a better chance of being heard. We have tapped into this in 2020, when DR, NRK, RUV, SVT, SR, UR and Yle joined forces to offer our view on the digital future in Europe. Among the points we made clear to the EU is that Nordvision’s partners want the international tech giants to respect the public service broadcasters’ editorial independence.

2020 was also the year when the pan-Nordic public service partnership came to include all territories in the Nordic region, as we were able to welcome Ålands Radio och TV Ab from the Åland Islands as a new member of Nordvision. This group of islands is an autonomous region of Finland
with a population of 30,000.

Thank you for our great cooperation in 2020. We eagerly anticipate a new year where our partnership is once more free to flourish across the entire Nordic region.

Chair of Nordvision and Media Director at NRK,
Øyvind Lund

Secretary General, Nordvision
Henrik Hartmann

Pictture of Elias in Eagles. Photo: SVT/New Stories

The successor to SKAM is …

Coverphoto Eagles. Photo: Kristoffer Jönsson/SVT

… Season 3 of Swedish drama Eagles. The series will be aired across the five Nordic countries.

Iconic picture from Skam. Photo: NRK

Nordic cooperation on youth content has seen a substantial increase in recent years.

Executive Producer, Sanne Övermark

“Young people are by far our most important target audience in the Nordic region. All of us MUST relate to this group and give them our very best …” – Sanne Övermark, producer of SVT drama Eagles

Picture from the upcoming series "19" from NRK. Photo: NRK

The collaboration between DR, NRK, RUV, SVT and Yle continues at full pace.

"Jag Kommer" from Svenska Yle. Photo: Svenska Yle

For 2021, the Nordvision Fund can award EUR 150,000 towards the development of Nordic projects in the Youth & young adults category.

YOUTH & YOUNG ADULTS: The successor to Skam is… Eagles

“It’s touching and brave when young people call me up and tell me their stories because they’ve seen our series. To me, this suggests that we could become even more relevant for young audiences who otherwise watch Netflix and spend a lot of time on YouTube,” says Sanne Övermark, producer of the youth drama series Eagles (SVT).

Executive Producer, Sanne Övermark

Reviews have been good, and viewing figures very good indeed for Seasons 1 and 2 of the youth drama series Eagles. Season 3 will be aired in June 2021, and Season 4 is also on its way. The drama series Eagles revolves around a group of young people in a small Swedish town where love, rivalry and friendship intertwine with a ruthless focus on ice hockey and dreams of a different future.

I would like to see an even greater commitment to collaboration on Nordic youth drama, so that we could top up funding for each other’s series.

Sanne Övermark, SVT

The Norwegian hit series Skam whetted the appetite of all the Nordic public
service media for producing relevant youth drama for the public service
providers’ own streaming services. SVT were among them, and together with the New Stories production company, they also set about developing more series targeted at the younger audience.

Already at the open casting for the leading roles, rumours spread that the
production of a Swedish version of Skam was underway. This helped to generate great interest in the Eagles series, even before it went into production.

Photo: SVT / New Stories
Filming of Eagles 3 has started, and the series will be aired in June 2021. Photo: SVT / New Stories

“Virtually everyone in Sweden has seen or heard of Eagles, and it’s been really well received by young people in the target audience. I think the main reason for its success is the fact that the young actors aren’t superstars, but ordinary young people – persons the Swedish youngsters can identify with, and who reflect their lives in the small towns,” says Sanne Övermark, the series’ producer.

NRK in the driving seat

The number of Nordic youth drama series has significantly increased in the wake of Skam. This includes the Nordvision partners’ co-production of more than 10 drama series every year for the past three years. And NRK are still the ones in the driving seat.

“NRK’s Skam proved to all the Nordic countries that we are able to attract a target audience that we had actually given up on trying to reach with our content production. Of course DR, Yle and SVT have kept up with developments since then, but NRK are still very much in the driving seat. They are very ambitious, and I admire – and envy – the large number of series they produce, also for young people in minority groups,” says Sanne Övermark.

Moving images appeal to more young consumers

Young people’s consumption of moving images has exploded in recent years. Sanne Övermark mentions that young viewers spend only a modest 3% of their media time on SVT, according to the provider’s own study.

“I believe that there’s a huge demand for the things we produce for younger
audiences. If we create good content, they’ll watch it. After all, they do watch Eagles, Festen and Edits documentary content aimed at their age group. I get called up by young viewers who’ve seen my name in the credits. They bravely tell me about their lives, worries and dreams. They feel that they’re being taken seriously when they watch content produced specifically for them,” explains Sanne Övermark.

We should strengthen our collaboration even further

Competition for young adult viewers has intensified in recent years. Sanne
Övermark is worried that the public service media will lose young audiences unless they provide them with a greater offering all year round, and she calls for further Nordic collaboration.

“SVT will maintain a frequency of three youth drama series per year. That isn’t really a long-term strategy. But that’s entirely my own opinion, seeing as I work with this target audience. We already have a strong Nordic collaboration in this category, so why not strengthen it further? I would like to see an even greater commitment to collaboration on Nordic youth content, so that we could top up funding for each other’s series and give access to many more Nordic series, as this would allow us to promise young people that they’ll get new content all year

Eagles 3 (SVT)
Co-producers: NRK, DR og Yle
Production company: New Stories
Creator: Stefan H. Lindén
Production support: SEK 2,156,000 (Eagles 1)
and SEK 3,433,333 (Eagles 2)
Season 3 premiere: June 2021

Real-life ”Game of Thrones”

This historical documentary about the Stockholm Bloodbath has certain similarities with Game of Thrones …

… and it also uses some of the same devices: professional actors, realistic costumes and scenography typical of the period.

The bloodbath itself occurred in Stockholm’s main square, which has been faithfully recreated to represent the real events.

One animator worked for four weeks to illustrate the gradual formation of the large Danish army on its way to Stockholm … a sequence lasting just 20 seconds.

Patrick Bratt is executive producer on the series. Photo: SVT

“We have to meet the viewers’ demands for visual quality, even if we have limited funds” – Patrick Bratt, Executive Producer, SVT

Stockholms Blodbad behind the scenes

Stockholms blodbad (SVT)
Co-producers: DR, NRK and YLE
Production company: Faktabruket
Premiere: January 2021

FACTUAL: Real-life Game of Thrones drama unfolded in Stockholm

SVT bring a bloody power struggle for the Swedish throne to life with ambitious crowd animations and Hollywood-style dramatisations. This is necessary in order to match the audience’s high expectations of visual quality, says producer Patrick Bratt.

The bloodiest event in Europe during peacetime. This is how historians refer to the Stockholm Bloodbath 500 years ago.

On 4 November 1520, Christian II of Denmark was happy to be crowned and celebrated as the rightful King of Sweden during a three-day feast for the Swedish elite at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. The day after the feast, he summoned the guests to the palace’s great hall and slammed the gates shut. Together with Archbishop Gustav Trolle, he then accused and sentenced a number of leading nobles and clergymen to death. A total of 82 people were beheaded over the next few days at Stortorget square, because they were opposed to the king’s plans to unify Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark under one king.

Viewers have high expectations of visual quality, and these demands have to be met, even if we have limited funds”

Patrick Bratt, SVT

If the story sounds familiar, it may be due to its resemblance to the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones, where Lord Walder Frey takes similar revenge on King Robb Stark.

Four weeks to produce a 20-second sequence

It is precisely the high production quality that viewers have grown to expect in streaming series such as Game of Thrones that manifests itself in SVT’s two-part documentary about the Stockholm Bloodbath, shown one week apart at the end of 2020/start of 2021.

“Viewers have high expectations of visual quality, and these demands have to be met, even if we have limited funds,” says Patrick Bratt, Executive Producer at SVT Documentary.

SVT outsourced this task to an external producer, Daniel Skogström from Faktabruket, who has recreated Stockholm in 3D and made use of green screen effects to depict the bloodbath as realistically as possible. Professional actors are involved, and the costumes and scenography are as close to reality as possible. Overall, this helps to elevate the impression of scenes that are evocative of a Hollywood production.

The documentary also uses crowd animations and fly-over shots, illustrating through aerial footage the gradual formation of the large Danish army as thousands of soldiers make their way to Stockholm.

“We’re only talking two sequences lasting 20 seconds in total, but that has taken a freelance animator with experience from the world of gaming four weeks to produce. However, we do use it several times,” explains Daniel Skogström.

500 years ago in Stockholm, heads were rolling – quite literally so. Although the documentary was planned for the late night slot after 21:00, the bloodiest details have been downplayed.

The script presented the greatest challenge

In Daniel Skogström’s opinion, however, the greatest challenge was not the technical aspects, but rather the writing of the script.

“It was a huge task to reduce the narrative to a story you can follow over a few hours. You have to simplify it without it becoming inaccurate to ensure that the narrative is still historically correct.”

Consequently, Daniel Skogström has allied himself with one of Sweden’s most respected historians, Bo Ericsson, who guarantees its historical accuracy.

The documentary is true to historical facts and aims
to recreate both the atmosphere and environment.

When asked about the background to producing a documentary about one of the bloodiest chapters in Swedish history, Patrick Bratt says:
“We’re all part of our history, and we need to know about it. Perhaps what drives people now isn’t all that different from what drove them back then. And in this case, history reveals a sliding doors moment. Gustav Vasa would never have had the chance to become king, if all the leading noble families hadn’t been executed.”

Part of the filming took place in Copenhagen and Bergen, where Christian II – or Christian the Tyrant, as he was known in Sweden – also wrought havoc.
This is a Nordic co-production supported by DR, NRK and YLE.

Stockholms blodbad (SVT)
Co-producers: DR, NRK and YLE
Production company: Faktabruket
Premiere: January 2021

14 children’s drama series each year from now on. This is what DR, NRK, Swedish Yle and SVT have agreed to produce in total

DR’s Akavet is among the first of these series.

The editorial teams for children’s content share their ideas with each other, and they get new and exciting concepts in return.

SVT and NRK have taken over the series format Klassen from DR …

DR have received the Dinolabbet format from SVT, giving them access to a fully equipped TV studio and production crew …

And all four broadcasters – DR, NRK, Swedish Yle and SVT – now also produce content for the very young …

… based on public service and Nordic values.

“Of course we can get scared by the major global players, but we can also turn this on its head and consider what unique possibilities we have for differentiating ourselves” – Morten Skov Hansen, Head of DR Ramasjang and DR Ultra

CHILDREN: Children’s drama gives collaboration an extra boost

The Nordic children’s channels will close ranks even more through a new commitment: the co-production of at least 14 drama series per year. These channels have a key advantage that not even global giants such as Netflix and Disney are able to beat, says the head of DR Children’s TV.

Following in the footsteps of adult drama, the children’s editorial teams in
the Nordvision partnership have made a new, formalised commitment to
collaborate. This will provide young adult viewers and the very young with a minimum of 14 new Nordic drama series each year.

B14 is inspired by the N12 collaboration on drama, in a context where
competition for children’s content is tougher than ever while budgets are
also under pressure. In addition, the broadcasters want to extend their
target audiences to include the very youngest children.

Of course we can get scared by the major global players, but we can also turn this on its head and consider what unique possibilities we have for differentiating ourselves.

Morten Skov Hansen, DR

These challenges call for closer Nordic cooperation, says Morten Skov
Hansen, head of DR Ramasjang and DR Ultra.

”We’re facing many of the same challenges, and we benefit greatly from
knowledge exchange and discussing ideas with our peers. Each team has
high ambitions, and this helps us ensure that we keep each other focused.”

Taking over entire production setup from SVT

The Nordic children’s departments engage in co-production as well as
content exchange. This may include taking each other’s content and
making it their own, as with the DR fiction series Baseboys, which SVT
adopted and turned into Up4Noise.

However, SVT has created a production setup for a dinosaur series in a TV
studio, which DR will get to use as an entire unit – including all the productions crew and contents setup, but with a Danish host – as soon as the Swedes have finished filming. And there are several very tangible examples of the benefits gained by joint Nordic cooperation, the DR editor believes. Both NRK and SVT have expanded their offerings to include universes for the very youngest aged 1 to 4, and DR now has a similar channel on the way.

”We build on insights gained by NRK regarding the composition of images, use of colours and how children pick up visual information. And from SVT, we’re inspired by their ways of using gestures in singing games,” Morten Skov Hansen explains.

Immensely local is more relatable

External competition in the children’s category has increased in
recent years, most recently with Disney’s streaming service entering
the Nordic market.

”Disney+ is simply an amplification of the challenge already presented
by Netflix through their massive investments in marketing, which is an
integral part of working in an international market.”

However, having a global starting point comes with its own limitations,
according to Morten Skov Hansen.

The challenges posed by international streaming services call
for closer Nordic cooperation, says Morten Skov Hansen, head of DR
Ramasjang and DR Ultra. Photo: DR

”Our content doesn’t have to work in Spain, Asia or South America. We have an immensely local foundation, and this is far more recognisable and relatable than any TV show that has to work globally.” Morten Skov Hansen believes that we have far more similarities than differences in the Nordic region.

DR pushed the boundaries ”with Ultra smider tøjet”

Human bodies are all very different. DR helped to demystify this topic for child audiences in
Ultra smider tøjet. Photo: DR

”We have a clear affinity and a set of values for ‹a proper chil dhood’. We also dare to deal with topics that may be difficult – things you’d never come across in Disney’s universe,” he explains, quoting Ultra smider tøjet as one example. This programme has adult guests of all shapes and sizes, some with tattoos or piercings, appearing naked. One of its key aims is to go against the idealised image of how people should look.

Of course we can get scared

Morten Skov Hansen helped to launch DR Ultra ten years ago, but since then he has worked at international giants such as Time Warner, Discovery and Cartoon Networks before returning to DR.

”And today it’s clear to me what a huge privilege it is that we’re able to handle the task in such a clear-cut way. ”Of course we can get scared by the major global players, but we can also turn this on its head and consider what unique possibilities we have for differentiating ourselves,” he says, quoting another example.

”We produce newscasts for children. You’ll never see that happening at Disney.”

Keyart for Thin blue line. Photo: SVT

Having been dormant for a while, the crime genre gets a new lease of life with SVT

Group hoto from the police station. Photo: SVT/Anagram

“Thin Blue Line”

SVT’s new crime drama is set around six officers, who are part of the police force in Malmö.

It asks the question:
How can you keep being a complete and loving human being when you’re exposed to the absolute dregs of society in your day-to-day job?

Anna Croneman is head of drama in SVT. Photo: SVT

“Audiences were starting to grow tired of the crime genre, but I believe we’ve helped to reinvent the genre with this series” 
Anna Croneman, SVT Head of Drama

From Thin blue line. Photo: SVT/Anagram

Reviewers and audiences liked what they saw:  

”… so skillfully executed it doesn’t even hurt to admit that you occasionally become dewy-eyed”

– Expressen

Keyart for Thin blue line. Photo: SVT

“A fine and irresistible mix of unvarnished contemporary realism, charming relationship drama and passion in the workplace”

– Dagens Nyheter

Mix of pictures from upcoming drama series within Nordic 12.

Each year, DR, NRK, RUV, SVT and Yle co-produce and broadcast 12 new Nordic drama series.

DRAMA: Thin blue line – new Swedish everyday crime drama has pan- Nordic launch

”How can you keep being a complete and loving human being when you’re exposed to the absolute dregs of society in your day-to-day job? The viewers will encounter human characters with flaws and imperfections in a kind of Hill Street Blues, set in Malmö in 2020.” This is how SVT’s Head of Drama, Anna Croneman, sums up the content of SVT’s new drama series.

Mix of pictures from Thin blue line. Photo: SVT/Anagram

The series Tunna Blå Linien, which will premiere in 2021 throughout the Nordic region, is set around Sara, Magnus, Jesse, Leah, Dani and Faye. All of them work for the police force in Malmö, and they each struggle to balance their tough professional lives with their personal lives and relationships with friends. Their workplace is the streets of Malmö, a city with many different faces.

The police officers take viewers into local areas, leaving scope for different storylines than conventional narratives. Photo: SVT / Anagram

Need to reinvent the genre

The Nordic countries, not least Sweden, are known for their brilliant crime novels and crime series. However, few Nordic TV crime series have emerged in recent years. According to SVT’s Head of Drama, Anna Croneman, a kind of saturation point had been reached.

“I think that most people, audiences as well as screenwriters, had perhaps grown a little tired of the genre. And so everyone realised that if we were to make another TV crime drama, we’d have to somehow reinvent the genre. Perhaps this could be done by making a number of series based on real-life cases, such as Efterforskningen and Jakten på en mördare. I think that the current state of the world inspires a yearning for drama and dramedy.”

Nordic countries reveal drive for renewal

While acknowledging that Nordic Noir has probably had its day, she points
out that at last year’s international drama festival C21 in London, two out of six selected series entries were Nordic.

“In fact, I think that we have good reason to feel proud here in the Nordic
countries.

It may well be that the Nordic Noir bubble collapsed a while ago, but at C21, we – the Nordic public service providers – had two out of six specially selected series entries screened in the non-English-language drama category. And while we’re on the subject of drama trends, I believe that drama series such as SVT’s Kalifatet, NRK’s 22. juli and DR’s Ulven kommer reveal a very strong drive for renewal among the Nordic public service media. As a result, viewers now get new types of TV dramas as well as TV crime series,” says Anna Croneman.

Portrait of SVTs head of drama, Anna Croneman. Photo: Eva Edsjö/SVT
The importance of a strong drama collaboration increases every day,
reckons SVT’s Head of Drama, Anna Croneman. Photo: Eva Edsjö / SVT

Wish for a big Nordic project

According to the Head of Drama for Sweden, the greatest challenge right now in the drama category is that the major international streaming services provide a “good” one-stop shop for producers, screenwriters, directors, actors and new talent. For example, you can avoid the hassle of having to apply for funding from multiple sources and, at first glance, they may seem look like an easier option. But as she also points out:

“Of course, in this way they sell most of their rights, which can have other
consequences. But it doesn’t seem to be causing concern at the moment, and that’s why we as public service broadcasters have to counter this competition with high quality content while also showing courage.”

The Nordic public service providers’ heads of drama and drama departments have worked closely together for many years. In the past two years, they have aimed to further strengthen this through the Nordic12 collaboration, where they co-produce a minimum of 12 Nordic drama series per year.

“I see the importance of a strong Nordic drama collaboration increasing every day. I think that as Nordic heads of drama, we have a fruitful dialogue and a genuine collaboration.

We’re not always ‘in the same place at the same time’, but that doesn’t matter, because being in total agreement won’t help us move forward. If I really could have one more wish for the future of the Nordic collaboration, it would be a really big, cool Nordic project,” declares Anna Croneman.

In fact, the Nordic heads of drama are currently developing a Norwegian drama project that could potentially have a major pan-Nordic

Tunna blå linien (SVT)
Co-producers: DR, NRK, RUV and Yle
Production company: Anagram
Main writer: Cilla Jackert
Main director: Sanna Lenken
Premiere: January and February 2021 in all five
Nordvision-countries.

Yle has produced a true crime series focused on Jari Louhelainen

He is an internationally renowned DNA expert who investigates crimes.

Jari. Photo: Yle

Jari delves into Finland’s most notorious murder case.

DR and SVT joined in as co-producers.

”The uncertainty about what we’ll discover is probably the greatest challenge in making a TV series such as this,” Jari says.

Unlike in a fictional crime show, Jari shows the entire process from sample collection to the final result.

Ari Lehikoinen is the executive producer of Morden DNA

Most of its viewers have watched all episodes

People are interested in crime, and the true crime genre is popular right now, says Ari Lehikoinen, producer.

FACTUAL: Jari – the modern Sherlock Holmes

How do public service providers deal with the increasingly popular genre of true crime? Yle wanted to venture into this category by centring on a real-life, contemporary Sherlock Holmes. DR and SVT wanted to do the same and came on board as co-producers. Jari took on an unsolved 60-year old murder case that still has the power to cause upset in Finland.

The time is June, 1960. Four young adults, two of them minors, are attacked with a knife and a rock while camping at Lake Bodom in Esbo, southern Finland. Three of them die in the brutal assault. The fourth person survives and is later accused of the murders on several occasions spanning more than 40 years. No one has ever been convicted in court for the murders. However, a number of objects remain in the police archives.

Finnish law is still a hindrance

This is where Yle’s new series, Mordets DNA, with DR and SVT as co-producers, enters the picture. All of Season 1, with four episodes which were delivered to the co-producers at the end of January 2021, focuses on the case of the murdered youngsters.

People are interested in crime, and the true crime genre is popular right now

Ari Lehikoinen, Yle

“In the future, the Finnish police will be able to analyze DNA in a completely different way from now, provided the law allows it. This was also our starting point for the series. In the case of the Bodom murders, the police have stored objects – such as a pillowcase with traces of semen – in vacuum packaging so that they can be examined again in future,” says the series’ producer at Yle, Ari Lehikoinen.


HER MANGLER ET AVSNITT TEKST

He notes that modern DNA technology is so advanced that you can draw a
passport photo of the person who left traces. However, at present, police in
Finland can only use DNA to decide if their suspect is the right person.
In Sweden, the law was changed several years ago and since then, thanks to DNA samples submitted to genealogy databases, the Swedish police have solved for instance a double murder committed in Linköping 16 years earlier. This also makes the series Mordets DNA interesting throughout the Nordic countries, Ari Lehikoinen points out.

The key figure in Yle’s co-production, Jari Louhelainen, draws on his many
years of experience in criminal investigations to delve into one of the most
controversial murder cases in Finland. Photo: Yle

Professor with an eye for microscopic traces

At the heart of the series, like a 21st century Sherlock Holmes, is Jari Louhelainen. His long career includes posts as Senior Lecturer at the Liverpool John Moores University and as Associate Professor at the University of Helsinki. His specialisms are criminological and medical research.

“Unlike in a fictional crime show, in this series we show the entire process from sample collection to the final result. The series contains a lot of technical details and visualisations that we otherwise rarely see on TV,” says Jari Louhelainen.

When the series was being developed, it had the working title Jari – the Modern Sherlock Holmes. Jari Louhelainen also points out that several of the fictitious Sherlock’s methods are employed in modern policing.

Most viewers want to watch the whole series

Reactions from Finnish viewers have been positive, according to both Aki
Lehikoinen and Jari Louhelainen. At Yle Areena, the proportion of viewers who did not continue watching after the previous episode has been negligible – audiences want to watch the series till the end.

“Since our work is documented from the beginning, the uncertainty about what we’ll discover is probably the greatest challenge in making a TV series such as this. If we can’t get hold of evidence or DNA samples, it’s going to be a pretty short project,” says Jari Louhelainen.

In this series, Yle hasn’t been able to identify a murderer. But it was possible to rule out suspects, and that also makes for interesting TV.
“People are interested in crime, and the true crime genre is popular right now. It has also been criticised for ethical reasons, and the ways in which public service providers deal with this type of content is a relevant issue. The co-producers’ support was vital to us, and we’re very much looking forward to the next pitch event for factual content at Nordvision,” says Ari Lehikoinen.

What is the result of all this intricate sampling? According to Jari Louhelainen,
the series’ forensic expert, the uncertainty surrounding the answers is one of
the most challenging factors in making true crime content for TV. Photo: Yle

A team of Nordic scientists go missing in Siberia

The first-ever joint Nordic production of a podcast drama is underway: Permafrost.

The podcast is being developed in Sweden by Munck and SR, while DR and NRK provide ideas.

Illustrastion from Sveriges Radio. Photo: SR

The next result from the podcast collaboration is already on its way

 

DR have commissioned a Danish version of the script for the Swedish Radio production Exorcismen i Eksjö.

Permafrost (DR)
Co-producers: NRK and Swedish Radio
Production company: Munck
Development support: EUR 20,000

PODCAST: Permafrost – the first co-developed Nordic drama podcast

Podcast listener numbers are increasing, along with the offering and number of platforms. The Nordic public service providers can offer proximity to their own culture, their own language and recognition. The development process is now in full swing to produce the first pan-Nordic drama podcast. This is Permafrost.

Why don’t we collaborate more on Nordic audio content? Anders Stegger says that this thought occurred to him quite early on. He took up his post as DR Media editor in 2020, and his responsibilities include fiction podcasts.

“The natural explanation is, of course, that you can’t add subtitles when the content is purely audio. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work together on larger development projects,” he says.

There’s also the risk that too many cooks spoil the broth. That’s why the development work takes place in Sweden.”

Anders Stegger, DR

If we each make a version of the same elaborate script, everyone should get a better product. Anders Stegger remarks that the field of podcasts has little money at its disposal, but if the Nordic providers combined their resources more often and leveraged their common brainpower, this could eventually lead to amazing projects.

No sooner said than done – he arranged a meeting with Swedish Radio and NRK. “Send me something good that you’ve done,” he urged them. SR provided something that made Stegger’s ears prick up – this could be something big.

More Nordic elements in the script

Permafrost was pitched to SR by the production company Munck as a fictional podcast. A research team has travelled to Siberia to study the tundra.

In 2020, Anders Stegger took up his post as Head of DR’s drama podcast offering. Why don’t we collaborate more? he asked himself. The process is now underway to strengthen the bond between the podcast editorial teams at the Nordic public service broadcasters. Foto: DR

Suddenly, their colleagues back in Scandinavia lose contact with the dispatched group. There is complete radio silence. A rescue team is sent to Russia to find out what has happened. After several discussions, DR and NRK came on board. And so did the Nordvision Fund, granting the project development support in November.

“Now we’ve received funding to develop it further and see whether it will add something extra if we give the characters different Nordic nationalities, or if what they discover in Russia has anything to do with Scandinavia. We’ve asked the developers of the podcast to look at how we could incorporate the Scandinavian countries into the story without having to include a meeting halfway across the Öresund Bridge,” says Anders Stegger.

National versions and actors

How do you make co-developed podcasts appealing across the Nordic countries without spoiling the story? Apparently, the solution is to make three national versions with different actors for each country. “There’s also the risk that too many cooks spoil the broth.” That’s why the development work takes place in Sweden. DR and NRK make suggestions and share ideas along the way, but otherwise we try to take a step back when decisions are made,” says Anders Stegger.

Huge demands on acting abilities

He sees clear opportunities for the drama genre in podcasts. av befolkningen lyssnade på. I Danmark väntar vi fortfarande på vår första fiktionshit.”

“In Finland, Yle has had great success with the fiction podcast Radio Sodoma, which a quarter of the population listened to. We’re still waiting for our first fiction hit here in Denmark.”

Telling a story using only audio is very demanding, Anders Stegger remarks.

“In a TV series, a few poor lines of dialogue are no big deal, as long as the visual narrative is stunning. In a podcast, you only have the credibility of the audio to rely on. This puts huge demands on the actors. If you’re already familiar with the actors, you might have an image of them in your head from their previous roles, and then it won’t work.”

This is only the start

Before long, DR’s contact with Swedish Radio also meant that another Swedish production, Exorcismen i Eksjö, caught the Danish team’s attention. DR’s listeners will soon be able to enjoy a Danish version of this fascinating Swedish podcast series. Illustration: SR

However, this has not prevented Anders Stegger’s eagerness to find exciting new drama projects for the podcast department – quite the opposite, in fact. His contact with SR and NRK has already led to another collaboration.

“I’ve just commissioned a production based on Exorcismen i Eksjö, which was made by SR. Its name came up when I was talking to SR and NRK.
They sent me it, and I thought it was brilliant. So now the scriptwriters in
Sweden are working on a Danish version. In a way, this is also the result of our collaboration within Nordvision,” says Anders Stegger.

Permafrost (DR)
Co-producers: NRK and Swedish Radio
Production company: Munck
Development support: EUR 20,000

Whitsun, pinse, pingst, helluntai

Why do we celebrate our religious festivals? A new Nordic co-production explains these concepts to school pupils.

The films about religion are among the most frequently viewed from NRK Skole. Here, NRK have produced a modern video series containing humour and warmth

Selma Ibrahim Karlsen is a familiar face for viewers of NRK’s children’s shows. In the other Nordic versions, she is replaced by colleagues from the respective countries thanks to the use of green screen.

Pål Solum is responsible for NRK Skole. Photo: NRK

Animations offer great opportunities for cooperation, as the content can be adapted to the different Nordic countries, explains Pål Solum from NRK Skole.

The series is made up of 20 animated films that explain the background to Christian festivals as well as holy days in other world religions.

Religiøse høytider (NRK)
Production company: TV Inter ​
Co-producers: DR, UR and Swedish Yle ​
Production support: NOK 330,000

KNOWLEDGE: Animations for the whole Nordic region in a new teaching initiative

NRK Skole’s videos on religious education are some of the most frequently viewed in the provider’s offering for schools. However, the material was starting to feel dated. Nordvision’s knowledge collaboration has now co-produced a whole series of new films, where animations and green screen filming take centre stage.

Why do we actually celebrate Whitsun?

Even if you, as a young person, belong to the Christian faith, it is not all that easy to relate to the many festivals that occur throughout the year. For many people, it simply means having a day off work or school.

NRK Skole wanted to shed light on the reasons for Christian as well as other religious festivals and to present this in a contemporary and quite entertaining way.

The result is 20 completely new films with not only animation but also presenters, whom the co-producers at DR, UR and Swedish Yle can replace with their own hosts.

The videos are produced by the Norwegian company TV Inter.

“As for the schools, which are of course our target audience, there’s very little material in Norway which explains these things properly and in a way that reaches the target group,” says Pål Solum, project manager at NRK Skole.

The existing material, he says, is often slightly outdated or too adult-oriented.

That is why the aim was to update the offering thoroughly.

In the Nordic countries, we have a long tradition of marking religious festivals. The Feast of Saint Lucia is one example of a date that is traditionally celebrated in several countries. The co-produced series from NRK helps to explain to pupils why we observe these festivals. Photo: TV Inter.

The allocation – 10 films about Christian festivals and 10 about holy days in other religions – is based on the new Norwegian curriculum, in which teaching is organised in precisely this way.

Teachers were keen to get new material

In a way, the new material was commissioned directly by the teachers themselves.

“In January last year, we held a workshop with ten teachers on the combined subjects of Christianity, Religion, Outlook on Life and Ethics, known in Norway as KRLE. We haven’t had a lot of resources to put into these subjects in the last five to ten years. But our statistics show that the films about religion we provide are among the most frequently viewed. Teachers rely very much on these videos,” says Pål Solum.

The idea emerged for a modern video series containing humour and warmth, and at the same time this inspired thoughts of a broader, pan-Nordic effort.

It’s not our intention to create a debate with these films, but we’re preparing for viewers’ reactions.

Pål Solum, NRK Skole

Thanks to the use of a green background screen in sequences where the presenter is in the frame, the series can be adapted to the co-producers’ specific wishes. In this way, the other Nordic countries can add their own presenters.

NRK and the production company TV Inter have sought to create a series with humour and warmth. In a sense, the commission came directly from Norwegian teachers.

“In our case, we wanted a high-profile presenter from NRK Super. Selma Ibrahim Karlsen features in Supernytt, so all the younger viewers know who she is and think she’s good fun.

She speaks their language,” says Pål Solum.

NRK and the production company TV Inter have sought to create a series with humour and warmth. In a sense, the commission came directly from Norwegian teachers. Photo: TV Inter.

NRK expect a response

Pål Solum says that NRK expect the new series to provoke reactions.

“Non-religious audiences might think that we shouldn’t be spending money on this. Religious viewers may think that we focus on the wrong issues within their religions. For example, we don’t depict the prophet Mohammed, which in itself is a very topical issue for teachers. It has been a challenge for the animators to tell the story without including images of the prophet. It’s not our intention to create a debate with these films, but we’re preparing for viewers’ reactions,” he says.

Our statistics show that the films about religion we provide are among the most frequently viewed. Teachers rely very much on these videos,” says Pål Solum, Project Manager at NRK Skole. Photo: NRK.

To make things easier for the co-producers, all information that is specific to Norway has been added at the end of the videos. That way it can be easily cut out and replaced, and the other Nordic broadcasters can access all the digital material and adapt it to their own requirements.

“We think this is a great and innovative approach to consider in future, when hopefully we’ll be able to collaborate further on projects such as this one. We’ve already discussed this in Nordvision’s knowledge group. After all, we always have a common interest in sharing more content,” says Pål Solum.

Fantoranen sitting on a toilet

Hands off the editorial content

That is the message for tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple

Presenter Kristian Gintberg “smoked” a liquorice pipe.

For example, Google Play removed an imaginary farting elephant as well as a child “smoking” a liquorice pipe.
Alfie Atkins’s pipe-smoking father met the same fate.

Illuration tech companies

In December 2020, the European Commission presented two bills aimed at regulating the tech giants

Margrethe Vestager in an online meeting

At an early stage in the process, the Director Generals from Nordvision’s five public service broadcasters agreed to make editorial independence a top priority.

Charlotte Niklasson is director of Nordvision i Brussel

The Nordvision director in Brussels, Charlotte Niklasson, is keeping a close watch on developments. Currently submitted to the member states for consultation, the proposals will be back with the Commission during the second half of 2022.

BRUSSELS: Tech giants should keep their hands off editorial content

The Nordvision partners want to ensure that a new EU directive requires digital platforms to respect the editorial independence of public service broadcasters.

Presenter Kristian Gintberg “smoked” a liquorice pipe.

Facebook, Google Play, YouTube and similar key players should be viewed purely as distribution platforms. For this reason, the tech giants should not in any way edit the content that the Nordic public service broadcasters make available hrough their platforms.

An imaginary farting elephant, and a child and an adult “smoking” liquorice pipes on air – just like Alfie Atkins’s pipe-smoking father – proved more than Google Play could handle.

This is the main demand put forward by Nordvision’s Director Generals, who at an early stage in the process aimed to influence a legislative proposal by the European Commission known as the Digital Services Act.

Freedom of speech comes under pressure

The purpose of the act is to break the dominance achieved by the global digital platforms, which is now outside of European control.

“By far the most important thing for us is to secure our editorial independence. We take full legal responsibility for complying with legislation in our respective countries, and that is why there should be no additional editorial judgement that is outside of our control,” says Charlotte Niklasson. As director of Nordvision’s office in Brussels, she is responsible for promoting the Nordic countries’ positions at official level.

When the various digital platforms set their own, often impenetrable standards for permissible content, this also means that freedom of speech, cultural diversity and the diversity of the media come under pressure at the same time. This constitutes a democratic problem and undermines people’s trust in the media, Nordvision points out in its recommendations to the Commission. Nordvision illustrates the problem through some very specific examples of the tech giants acting as arbiters of taste and gatekeepers.

Alfie Atkins’s father purged by censors

One example is DR’s Ramasjang app, which Google Play removed because of
a sequence in which a child along with the presenter depict Sherlock Holmes, using liquorice pipes as props. Google’s censors found this incompatible with an entertainment universe aimed at children. Similarly, Alfie Atkins’s pipe-smoking father was purged from the platform without any warning. The same fate befell NRK’s Fantorangen – an elephant-like fantasy character who sits on the toilet and farts to the delight of very young children aged two to four years. Here, Google decided that a target audience of 11 to 13-year-olds would be more appropriate.

MISSING TEXT

Another important requirement for the Nordic public service broadcasters is to gain access to the data that the tech giants collect when they make the
broadcasters’ productions available on their platforms.

“And we are also focusing on findability. Our content must not be swamped
in favour of paid content or the platforms’ own content,” explains Charlotte
Niklasson.

On 15 December 2020, the Commission presented two bills aimed at regulating the tech giants in terms of content and finance respectively. The proposals have been submitted to member states for comments. This process should be completed in 18-24 months, which would mean the second half of 2022.

2015: 

SKAM takes all the Nordic countries (and then the world) by storm.

Since then, young Nordic viewers have taken a lot of new content to ❤

The Nordic public service broadcasters know their young audience and are focusing specifically on this group.

The next new Nordic content for young people – what’s it to be?

Do you have the right idea? Apply for Nordvision funding to develop it further!

On 23 March you’ll be able to pitch your idea online. If it’s picked, you’ll receive funds to take it to the next level!

✓ Documentaries
✓ Social media
✓ Factual
✓ Audience research
✓ Satire
✓ Podcast
✓ Drama…

ALL kinds of ideas aimed at young audiences are welcome.

Give yourself and your idea a chance to develop further! Join in and submit a pitch.

Speak to your commissioner for Youth & young adults. Or get in touch with Nordvision! We’ll be happy to assist you. Read on>

Nordvision offers additional funding for youth development projects!

Iconic picture from Skam. Photo: NRK

Nordvision grants additional funding for young adult development projects
In a short period of time, the young adult collaboration has grown to become the third largest within Nordvision. We would like to use this matter of fact to its utmost abilities.

The Nordvision Fund Board has granted additional funding in year 2021 for development projects aimed at young adult development projects. In all, there will be approx. 150 000 euro available.

Nordvision wants to strengthen and extend the young adult collaboration to include the development of content and formats within both new and current areas, such as podcast and other forms of audio, documentary and drama projects, social media and audience research, to name a few.

Pitch your project in March

The projects will be pitched at the Nordvision Ung meeting on March 23. The development pitch is open to all types of projects aimed at young adults in the 16-29 age bracket. The deadline for registering projects will be on March 19. The aim is for all projects to have received a decision by the beginning of the Easter holidays. Projects that are granted support will be reported back six months later, in fall 2021.

A jury made up of representatives of the Nordic public service media companies will decide which development projects receive support. External and freelance producers may also apply.

Prepare your idea for the next step

If you have a project idea that you wish to realize with the support of Nordvision, you may apply for funding of your project. Have a talk with your commissioning editor or contact the Nordvision secretariat and we will assist you.

Read on >