Just one month before MIPCOM and only two after signing a contract that saw Germany’s Igel Media handling global distribution for Sweden’s Scandinature, the two companies have split. ‘We terminated the contract because they cannot pay,’ says Bo Landin, head of programming for Scandinature. ‘Because they can no longer be paying participants in our productions, there is no reason for us to stay with them. We have lost faith in them and they are in breach of contract.’
Torsten Florian Singer of Igel Media says the company’s financial commitments are temporarily frozen, as a group of shareholders struggle to keep MondoTV from increasing its stake in Igel from 30.3% to 51%. ‘MondoTV’s investment is relevant for the future development of Igel Media’s business in both departments,’ explains Singer. ‘At the moment, Igel Media cannot make any long-term financial commitments until the shareholder structure is clarified.’
Landin also speculates that Igel has decided to close its factual department, but Manfred Kiel, managing director of Igel’s non-fiction slate, claims this isn’t the case. ‘When the shareholder structure is clarified, Igel Media will work as usual,’ he says. ‘It’s not fair to say we will shut down factual.’
Rather than partner with another distrib, Scandinature will start its own distribution company, Scandinature Publishing. Explains Landin, ‘We want to work with a small, but strong, quality-driven distributor. We don’t see that distributor on the world market and we feel more comfortable being in the driver’s seat ourselves.’ The company is currently in talks with several independent producers who can help bring 20 to 40 new hours of programming to the market each year. As contracts haven’t yet been signed, Landin revealed only that the interested prodcos have worked with Scandinature in the past and hail from Europe, Africa and Scandinavia, predominantly producing science, adventure and natural history films.
The venture will launch at MIPCOM, where it will have its own stand. Landin’s daughter Erica will see the new division through the market, but Landin hopes to have five to seven sales managers on board by January. In the long term, he says, Scandinature Publishing will handle sales for home video, book publishing and interactive DVDs.
Landin and CEO Marianne Landin are also interested in finding a media partner to help build Scandinature as a whole. ‘Next year we’re 20 years old and we’ve taken this as far as we can as a family company,’ says Landin. ‘To take it further we need some financial strength. It could be a media company or just investors who want to put money in to see a return.’ Although claiming he doesn’t want Scandinature to become a huge company, expansion continues: Landin estimates Scandinature USA will be running out of Salt Lake City by next summer. ‘In the U.S., we will focus on docudrama, fiction and large format productions. We will focus on documentaries and children’s programs here in Sweden,’ he explains.