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

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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 international as well as pan-national funds. All five forms of funding are critically assessed on the basis of existing theory and expert 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 The Killing, The Bridge, The Legacy, 1864 and The Team) 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 15 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 precisely 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Popular Television
Pages (from-to)91-108
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Production studies, television, drama, funding, DR, public service broadcasting, Denmark


Dive into the research topics of 'When public service drama travels: the internationalization of Danish television drama and the associated production funding models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this