The great advantage of Nordic television and media collaboration is that the sum is significantly greater than its parts. Each participating company experiences definite added value: they gain access to more programs and can pool their resources to undertake major productions and develop program ideas.
For a small public service company operating in a small language, collaboration affords opportunities to, together with like-minded partners, generate and share knowledge and ideas relating to corporate strategy, engineering/technology, content and journalism.
Nordvision collaboration is imbued with a readiness to share information, insights and ideas. Most of those involved in the collaboration get a lot out of discussing their experiences with colleagues in other countries. Some say they feel closer to their Nordic colleagues than to colleagues in their own company, since they share the same specialties and face the same challenges.
One thing that has emerged from the collaboration to date is the importance of a decentralized structure. Obviously, the collaboration has to have the approval and understanding of top management, but concrete results are achieved by the program groups – and in the program exchange network. These are at the heart of Nordvision collaboration.
Program groups often have members that are personally dedicated to the collaboration and are eager to share their knowledge as well as program content. Perhaps the prime advantage of decentralized collaboration is that the groups, unfettered by bureaucracy, work relatively quickly and produce results.
Nordic financing enchances production values
Collaboration affords several practical advantages, as well. When several companies co-produce and finance a series, it allows the production team to do more research, spend more time on shooting and more time on editing – all of which results in a better product.
Nordic coproduction can open doors
When you represent a small television company in the far north it is often to advantage to be able to point out to public figures or stars you wish to interview, etc., that the program will be aired throughout the Nordic region, to a potential 25 million viewers. It often is a convincing argument to point out that this is an opportunity to reach five national audiences with a single interview, instead of having to do two, three or five.
The whole region as a home market
Taken individually, Nordic markets are extremely small by international standards. Therefore, it is to advantage in several respects to identify the whole region as our home market. That is, to produce programs and series having universal utility. Nordic TV fiction is a good case in point, but the same applies to juvenile fiction, investigative documentaries – in fact, to most genres.
Few topics are strictly “national” these days. Events that take place in distant places can have impacts on our local communities. The planet has become smaller; we want and need both to know what is happening in the world. It makes sense to co-produce and exchange programs that give us that kind of information and to share the costs of acquiring it.
Similarities and contrasts in the region
Nordic collaboration – of all kinds – often involves comparisons and contrasts. Comparing ourselves with others in the region is beneficial in many ways. When we describe the similarities and differences between us and our neighbors, we have an opportunity to see ourselves in the mirror and get some perspective on our ways of doing things. We see our strengths and weaknesses. In short, others’ example can help us do a better job. Collaboration fosters understanding of our neighbors, but, equally important, it helps us “see ourselves”.
The idea behind Nordvision is that collaboration will yield a concrete value added: more and better programs at less cost. But there is also the idea that contact with creative partners will inspire innovation and new ways of thinking. The steadily increasing competition we face in the media sector calls for a focus on development. For that reason, Nordvision has its own Research & Development Fund to support Nordic developmental projects. The fund makes it possible for each company to spend less money on more projects – which in the long term saves money.
Clear terms and good communication
Last but not least, the lesson learned is that not all our collaboration is successful. Experience shows that the clearer the terms, the project descriptions and guidelines, the better the outcome. An open and good communication is absolutely essential.