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Aass lands top MTG content job as Svensk exits

Morten Aass

Morten Aass

European broadcaster Modern Times Group has made Morten Aass president and CEO of its content group in a move that sees Patrick Svensk exiting.

Aass takes on the Nice Entertainment Group top job having joined in September last year when MTG acquired Helsinki-based Nice, which comprises 15 production brands, distributor DRG and Modern Africa Productions.

Aass was CEO of Nice upon completion of the €84.4 million (US$115 million) deal, but became vice-chairman and CEO, branded/events, in March this year when the Nice brand replaced the MTG Studios moniker.

His promotion to chief exec means former Zodiak Entertainment M&A chief Svensk, who was Nice’s CEO and executive VP for content at MTG, is leaving.

Svensk has been with the company for the last two-and-a-half years, and was instrumental in bringing Nice into the MTG fold. He was oversaw the acquisition of Doc Martin distributor DRG last year.

He had started his career at MTG-owned TV3, and later joined MTV Produktion, which ultimately became Zodiak Television. He left that business two years after De Agostini acquired Zodiak to create a new global content group.

“Patrick started his career at MTG over 20 years ago and came back with a clear mandate to establish a much larger content footprint and capability,” said MTG CEO and president Jørgen Madsen Lindemann. “Taking our content division from six companies in five countries to 28 companies in 16 countries is quite an accomplishment, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Aass, meanwhile, is joining MTG’s executive management team.

“The origination and delivery of high quality entertainment content is the very essence of our business, and the strong development of the Nice Entertainment Group of content businesses is a key driver of our future growth,” said Lindemann of the news.

“Nice operates with the ambition to serve all broadcasters and content aggregators in its markets with high quality products, and we have substantially scaled up our operations in this area over the past two years.

“Morten came on board at the end of last year after we bought Nice and has proven himself him an invaluable member of the management team. His appointment to this senior role will ensure that we build on this strong platform as one of the leading producers and distributors of world class entertainment.”

Before Nice, Aass previous was CEO of ProsiebenSat.1’s free TV channels in Norway, and was executive chairman of Norwegian communications agency Dinamo.

Separately, Louise Ernst has left her position of head of programming at Modern Times Group’s Viaplay to join Millicom, DTVE sister title TBI has learned.

Ernst has been at Viaplay, the on-demand service run by MTGx, since 2012, and in different positions at divisions of parent company MTG since 2005.

Latin America and Africa-focussed telco and media firm Millicom confirmed that she joined the company as its programming manager. A spokesman would not elaborate on the role, citing commercial sensitivity, above saying Ernst will be sourcing content for Millicom’s growing range of TV services.

The company runs a TV service in several Latin American markets under the Tigo Star brand. It has also acquired channels, buying Cablevision in Paraguay and Multivision in Bolivia last year.

MTG confirmed Ernst’s departure and told TBI that Lina Brounéus has assumed the position of programme director at Viaplay. She now oversees all content, series, movies, sports and kids programming on the platform. Brounéus was previously head of operations at Viaplay.

Ernst’s is the latest in a line of MTG executives to move Millicom in recent times, a trend that started with MTG CEO Hans Holger Albrecht taking the top job at the telco in 2012.

MTG and Millicom share a major shareholder in Swedish investment firm Kinnevik. The Stockholm-listed firm has a 20.3% holding in MTG (and 48% share of its voting stock) and a 38% stake in Millicom.

MTG noted that Viaplay is strengthening its exclusive content line-up. This month it launched the new concept Viaplay Premiere where new content is exclusively premiered in Scandinavia on Viaplay. 24: Live Another Day premiered straight after the US launch and on 31 May the new series Crossbones will be shown less than 24h after the network launch in the US.