Germany’s public broadcaster ARD has sought to allay producers’ concerns after the dismissal of Hans-Wolfgang Jurgan, CEO of ARD’s central film purchasing agency Degeto Film, this week “for serious organisational deficiencies“.
In a letter to the German Producers Alliance (GPA), Dagmar Reim, the new chair of Degeto’s supervisory board, and MDR’s director-general Karola Wille, who has responsibility within the ARD network for relations with the film industry, declared that €23m had now been made available to honour existing production contracts or licensing agreements entered into by Degeto.
GPA’s membership of 220 production companies from the fields of animation, feature film, TV entertainment, TV fiction, advertising and documentaries, had become increasingly concerned about their future after it was learnt that Degeto under Jurgan’s management had overspent its programming budget for 2010 and 2011 to such an extent that there wouldn’t be any new production commissions or film rights deals until 2013.
“A strong Degeto is very, very important for us,“ GPA board chairman Alexander Thies said, pointing out that such a central agency commissioning programmes for all of the ARD’s schedule “represents reliability and programme planning from a single source.”
With an annual budget of around €400m, the Frankfurt-based company - whose shareholders are the ARD member stations or their commercial subsidiaries – is the most important single production partner for independent producers in Germany through programme commissions, co-financing and co-production.
Degeto’s name is often to be found in the credits of German feature films – ranging from Uli Edel’s The Baader Meinhof Complex, Heinrich Breloer’s Buddenbrooks and Jo Baier’s Henri 4 to Leander Haussmann’s Hotel Lux, Marcus O. Rosenmüller’s Wunderkinder, and Sebastian Grobler’s Lessons of a Dream – and this year saw Degeto coming onboard Peter Sehr and Marie Noelle’s historical biopic Ludwig II, Vanessa Jopp’s romantic comedy Der perfekte Mann, and Christian Lerch’s eco-comedy Was weg is, is weg, among others.
However, Degeto’s problems are not yet over for it looks as if the company’s other managing director Bettina Reitz may be moving back to Munich in June 2012 to take up the position of director of television at Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR).
She had only come from running BR’s film and TV drama department last May to serve as a co-managing director with Jurgan who had been CEO of Degeto since 2001.