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When public service drama travels: The internationalization of Danish television drama and the associated production funding models

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This article provides a detailed analysis of how the Danish public service broadcaster DR employs external funding for its drama productions. This investigation is carried out in order to discuss the schisms involved when a public service broadcaster – whose traditional obligations arguably pertain to the national sphere – becomes a player in the international market for television content and, as a consequence, becomes partly reliant on international funding. Our article examines five different forms of external funding (i.e. funding from sources other than DR’s licence fee income): (1) co-funding with external partners (most often foreign broadcasters and/or foreign distributors); (2) canned programming sales; (3) pre-sales of canned programming; (4) format/remake sales and (5) international funds, both regional and international as well as pannational funds. All five forms of funding are critically assessed on the basis of existing theory and interviews conducted with significant industry professionals at DR’s Drama Division, DR Sales, German public broadcaster ZDF’s commercial sales arm ZDF Enterprises, and independent Danish production companies Nimbus Film and Miso Film. Specific cases (such as Forbrydelsen/The Killing [2007–2012], Bron/Broen/The Bridge [2011–], Arvingerne/The Legacy [2014–], 1864 [2014] and The Team [2015–]) are employed to illustrate the different funding models and tendencies identified within Danish television drama production. Apart from presenting the proliferation of different cross-national funding models that have been used within the last fifteen years, our empirical data also show significant new patterns in production culture and international market orientation within DR. Interestingly, however, our study demonstrates the distinctive contribution that DR’s public service remit has made to the quality of its drama programming, on one hand, and to the reach of its funding models, on the other – and, hence, to DR’s overall international success.
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Keywords: DR; Denmark; drama; funding; production studies; public service broadcasting; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aarhus University

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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