Skavlan got ‘too expensive’ for NRK

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Norwegian talk show host Fredrik Skavlan and his production company Monkberry demanded more money than Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) “could or would” pay when it came time for NRK to renew its contract to air the show called Skavlan. That means Skavlan and NRK are parting company after more than 20 years of broadcasting history, with the talk show now due to be aired on commercial channel TV2 from this autumn.

Norwegian talk show host Fredrik Skavlan, shown here with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala, has had a long line of Scandinavian and international celebrities and newsmakers on his show over the years. PHOTO: Monkberry AS

“We naturally think this is sad, because Skavlan has provided important content for NRK,” stated Petter Wallace, an external editor for NRK who was in charge of the state broadcaster’s dealings with Monkberry, in which Skavlan himself has a ownership stake. “Fredrik Skavlan has been one of NRK’s most important hosts for 20 years.”

NRK had first rights to strike a deal for ongoing production and broadcasting of Skavlan. Wallace told NRK that NRK was willing to both expand the number of programs and pay more than last season, but the offer NRK had to match or exceed was simply too much. “NRK, as a publicly financed broadcaster, must show moderation in setting prices for content we’ll invest in,” Wallace said. Norwegians who must pay the mandatory annual fee for NRK “expect that from us. In some cases we are outbid by commercial players.”

That’s why NRK also lost the rights to air the last Summer- and Winter Olympics, because private players paid more in return for subjecting viewers to TV commercials. TV2, meanwhile, declared Tuesday that “Norway’s biggest talk show host for the past 20 years has chosen TV2.” Starting this fall, Skavlan will air on Friday evenings as before, in a TV2 line-up that includes the Idol and Senkveld (Late Night) shows.

Skavlan himself stated in a press release that he was grateful to NRK “for our fellow talk-show history and for more than 20 fine years at NRK … but when you’ve turned 50 (Skavlan is now age 51), it’s time to move away from home.”

NRK also thanked Skavlan for their “cooperation on a talk show with a guest list that few other European talk shows can match.” Ratings for the show have slipped lately, but NRK noted that viewership of all so-called “linear” (conventional) TV has declined in recent years. Skavlan has attracted more than a million Norwegian viewers on several occasions, in addition to those watching the show in Sweden, where it’s been aired on state broadcaster SVT. Its season finale just before Christmas in 2015 featured the British singer Adele and cook Jamie Oliver, along with Swedish Princess Madeleine with her American husband Chris O’Neill, and drew  3.4 million viewers.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported earlier on Tuesday that Fredrik Skavlan has also just paid NOK 21.6 million (USD 2.7 million) for half of a large duplex home in Oslo. The home, which was shown and sold outside the open market, is located close to NRK’s historic headquarters in Oslo’s Marienlyst neighbourhood, which borders on the University of Oslo’s campus at Blindern.

DN reported that real estate documents show Skavlan as the lone buyer, without his partner of more than 10 years, Swedish actress Marie Bonnevie. The couple has been living in Stockholm but Skavlan also owns another home in Oslo that’s in the same area as the new purchase. DN reported that it was unable to obtain any comment from Skavlan on his latest Oslo real estate purchase.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund