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I date my one-man Nordic creativity crusade back to 2005, when TBI published a global survey into the territories that were the most likely to come up with fresh and innovative formats. No surprise that the winner was the UK. No surprise either that the runner-up was the Netherlands. But it was unexpected to see the Nordic region ranked third.

That was six years ago. Today, it wouldn’t surprise anybody to see Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland at least challenging the Netherlands. Except, possibly, Nordic TV executives.

Which leads me to my point. What’s wrong with us Nordic types? Why are we so humble? Why aren’t we bragging about our successes and profiting directly from our creativity? And why, above all, are we selling out to the super-indies that have spent the last few years land-grabbing some of our best creative enterprises?

It’s easy to see what the super-indies — the likes of Zodiak, Shine, Banijay, Eyeworks, FremantleMedia and Endemol — are getting out of the deal. The Nordic market is competitive, our audiences educated and critical, and our individual territories small, which means we know how to produce on tight budgets. That’s a bundle of factors that stimulates creativity, because the only way to attract intelligent audiences on small budgets is to be clever, innovative and unafraid to take risks.

So not only can we make shows that look like a million but actually cost half, but our picky audiences also make us an interesting ‘nesting and testing’ ground for new formats. The super-indies have worked out that if a show can make it up here, it can make it anywhere. And they are right.

But I strongly believe that now is the time to resist the short-term solution of selling out to the super-indies in favour of the more challenging but ultimately 100% more rewarding option of standing united and doing it for ourselves. I’d like to see the profits of Nordic creativity and content reinvested in the Nordic region, to stimulate growth across the media ecosystem. If Nordic broadcasters and indies make more money, they will make better productions and take more risks, which will lead to more export, which will make more money…

The super-indies are more than welcome in the Nordic territories. By all means let them bring their money, work and power to our region. But I want to make sure that there is a good Nordic-owned and Nordic-controlled alternative out there. I’m tired of seeing the revenue from our creative capital flow into the coffers of foreign owners instead of being reinvested in Nordic-owned and controlled IP.

So my vision is simple: I want the Nordic region to become the most creative TV market in the world and double Nordic exports over the next three years.

How hard can it be?

Jan Salling is COO and sales director of export coalition Nordic World.


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