14 December 2001: The new government wants to turn the Media Agreement upside down
We want to uproot the Media Agreement made between the retiring government and the parties SF and CD last March, mr. Jens Rohde, the spokesman for the leading coalition party Venstre (the Left party), said shortly after the Danish general election, held on 20 November. Sale, or partly sale, of the public broadcaster TV 2 (partly commercial, partly financed by license income) was among the subjects mentioned by mr. Rohde, according to Ritzaus/Berlingske Tidende.
Mr. Brian Mikkelsen, the new Minister of Culture, representing the Conservative party in the new Danish coalition government, has taken quite a few decisions concerning the media in the few weks since the election victory.
At first, it seemed that the coalition did not want to give the public service companies Danmarks Radio, DR, and TV 2 the rise in license fee they had asked for. Mr. Mikkelsen assured, however, that the raise, constituting DKK 176 million, was secured for the budget year 2002.
The next step from mr. Mikkelsen was to make it clear that he wanted to get rid of the law listing major sport events which the public service companies DR and TV 2 should be given the opportunity to send. The list has its origins in the EU directive "Television without frontiers". The reason for the law and the list, agreed on in the Danish parliament in 1998, was to prevent further sky soaring of prices for the transmission rights for major sports events, mr. Mikkelsen pointed out.
The law has not been a success, and has not had any effect on the costs of buying transmission rights, Mr. Mikkelsen declared. The law is to be changed in such a way , that as from 1 January 2002 it should be up to the television channels themselves to make the necessary decisions concerning the buying and selling of transmissions rights, according to the Minister.
By mid-December, Mr. Mikkelsen wrote to the television companies TV 2, and TvDanmark, saying that he abolished, with immediate effect, the agreement they had with the former Minister of Culture, Ms. Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, controlling the transmission of commercials targeted at the smallest children.
Since last January the television channels have not been allowed to send commercialss aimed at children during a one and a half minute period before and after a programme targeted at children, and not before 9.30 AM during weekends.
Source: The Ministry of Culture/ Ritzaus/Berlingske Tidende
15 November 2001: The Danes want to watch Danish films
2,4 million movie tickets sold, approaching a market share equivalent to 31 per cent for films produced in Denmark. That is the result at the box office for the first nine months of 2001, according to Danmarks Statistik, the statistics bureau of Denmark. If this share is kept up all the way to December 31, 2001 will be a record breaking year in this respect.
The Danish movie theatres have sold nine per cent more tickets in total during the three first quarters of 2001, compared to the five year period 1996 – 2000, a press release from the Danish Film Institute states.
In the last year of great success, 1999, 3 million tickets were sold to people wanting to see Danish-produced films, but that was for a whole year. However, one has to go back to 1981, and the preceding years, to find anything like the great interest now shown for the Danish films in Denmark, according to the Danish Film Institute.
Source: The Danish Film Institute
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12 December 2001: Re.fi - information about Finnish science and technology
A new information service was launched in Helsinki December 11, according to a press release from the Ministry of Education. The Re.fi service offers information about Finnish science and technology in Finnish and in English on the net. It contains information about Finnish science and technology policy, important statistics and international comparative data, and links for more in-depth information.
Re.fi has been jointly planned and implemented by several agencies. The broad-based cooperation was a success, and the service will continue to be expanded and further developed as a joint project.
The Re.fi partners are the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Trade and Industry; the Science and Technology Policy Council of Finland; the Academy of Finland; the National Technology Agency TEKES; Statistics Finland; the Finnish Council of University Rectors; and Finnish center for high-performance computing and networking CSC, which is responsible for the technical solution. The Re.fi service was launched by Director General Arvo Jäppinen, Ministry of Education, who chairs the joint project.
The information service is open to all at http://www.re.fi.
Source: The Ministry of Education
6 November 2001: 2001 a year of operating loss for Alma Media
Alma Media, one of the leading Finnish media groups, has warned that the full-year (2001) operating profit will be negative.
Programmes of measures aimed at achieving very substantial cost savings in 2002 have been started in the Broadcasting, Alprint and New Media business areas, according to a press release.
Alma Media's report on the period January – September 2001 quotes preliminary data released by Ad Facts Ltd. It shows that the volume of media advertising in Finland fell 3.3 % between January and September. The terrorist attacks on the USA depressed almost all media advertising at the end of the reporting period; media advertising in September was more than 7 % lower than one year earlier.
Alma Media started digital television broadcasts on 27 August 2001. Digital television added 14 MFIM to Alma Media’s total costs between January and September. The Group estimates that it will incur altogether 23 MFIM in costs from digital television for the whole year.
Media advertising in Sweden has declined appreciably and this was also reflected in the performance of TV4 AB which operates in Sweden. TV4 AB contributed 7 MFIM (8 MFIM) to Broadcasting’s operating profit between January and September.
Source: Alma Media - reports
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4 December 2001: Cutbacks necessary to save Iceland’s public service company, RÚV
The national public service broadcaster of Iceland, RÚV, will be allowed to raise the license fee by 7 per cent in the fiscal year 2002, the Icelandic government agreed at a meeting summoned to discuss the economy and the day-to-day operations of the broadcasting company.
The poor prospects of RÚV for 2001; an operating loss of ISK 300 million, 10 per cent of the company’s total expenditure - and the remedial actions deemed necessary, where the central points of discussion. The Minister of Culture, mr. Björn Bjarnason, put forward a report from a working group, on the economy and operations of RÚV. The conclusion of the report was that thorough rationalisation and cutbacks in the production of programmes were necessary. The report also mentions that changes in the legal system controlling RÚV will be of importance.
RÚV’s income from advertisement and sponsorship, increasing steadily for the past few years, has fallen sharply during 2001. RÚV has also suffered financial losses and the economic situation as a whole is considered as serious at the end of the year.
Source: The Ministry of Education
13 November 2001: “Seagull’s Laughter" awarded six Eddas
The Edda Film and Television Awards is dubbed the “Icelandic Oscars", and this autumn they took place for the third time, Daily News from Iceland reports.
The overall winner was “Mávahlátur" (“Seagull’s Laughter"). “The movie, which is directed by Ágúst Gudmundsson, won the film of the year award, best director and will be sent to the Oscar preliminaries for best foreign film. Best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress – Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir, Hilmir Snær Gudnason and Kristbjörg Kjeld – all starred in the movie", the internet newspaper writes.
"Comedian Jón Gnarr won the best actor award and the best television show award went to cultural programme ‘Mósaík’. Ómar Ragnarsson was voted news presenter of the year and actress Kristbjörg Kjeld and actor Gunnar Eyjólfsson received a lifetime- achievement award", Daily News from Iceland writes.
Have a look at The Winners of Edda 2001.
Source: Daily News from Iceland
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9 December 2001: A year of success for Norwegian film producers
After a long tour of success for Norwegian director Knut Erik Jensen’s docu-musical, "Heftig og begeistret" (Cool and Crazy), it has been refused a distribution licence by the Chinese censors, the Norwegian Film Institute reports.
The press release from the Film Institute continues: "In China censors are not obliged to argue for their decisions, so we can only guess about the reason," said the distributing company NonStop Sales ceo Michael Werner. "Personally I think it is due to the choir members’ rather direct talk about women."
In Norway, however, there are no limits to the excitement about the Berlevaag Male Choir, which has returned from a US tour, where Jensen shot the sequel for his film, while the choir performed for up to 80,000 people (in North Dakota).
Since the first documentary was made two of the members have died, but seven newcomers have stepped in, without disturbing the average age of 75. “Heftig og begeistret 2" will have its world première at next year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
When coming back to Norway the ageing singers were awarded for selling 100,000 video/DVD units — slightly prematurely, as 1 December statistics registered 92,000 sell-thru cassettes and 6,200 DVDs, while 100,000 Norwegians had rented the film on video.
As at the box office, Petter Næss’ film “Elling" had done somewhat better, with 90,000 sell-thru cassettes, 15,000 DVDs, and 320,000 video rentals. "It is encouraging that quality films also become video and DCVD successes," said Film & Kino video consultant Erik Zmuda, according to the Norwegian Film Institute's press release.
Source: The Norwegian Film Institute
3 December 2001: Cost reductions in Aftenposten
The Board of Directors of Aftenposten, one of Norway's leading newspapers, approved a cost cutting program of NOK 200 million over the next two years as part of the productivity and profitability program announced by Schibsted, the owner group, a press release states.
The program involves staff reductions of 130 - 150 man-years. Aftenposten offers an early retirement plan to all those 60 years of age and above within the end of 2001, as well as "golden handshakes" with up to 12 months of salary. However, if staff reductions are not ensured by these voluntary initiatives and regular resignations, lay-offs will be necessary.
We expect the approved actions to give a positive effect of approx. NOK 100 million in 2002, on top of the already implemented actions of NOK 50 million, the Board states. Both programs were announced in connection with the 3rd quarter results. This involves allocations in the order of NOK 50 - 80 million that will be charged in the 4th quarter of 2001.
Estimates for the operating result, based on present expectations concerning the advertisement market for 2002 for Aftenposten Group including the free of charge newspaper Avis1, amounts to approximately NOK 50 - 100 million after the cost reductions with NOK 150 million effect on the above mentioned result is implemented.
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19 November 2001: The Ministry of Culture will not put forward a proposal aimed at restricting media concentration
The Minister of Culture, ms. Marita Ulvskog states in a press release that there will be no law against concentration of media ownership. We do not have the necessary and broad support among the parties in the parliament to further this case, which requires changes in the constitution, ms. Ulvskog declares.
One of the conclusions of a committee report issued in 1999 was that the rules imposed by the current Swedish competition law to prohibit co-operation aimed at restricting competition, were applicable also on the activities of media companies. The same rules applied to media companies in a dominant market position, the committee assumed. Even the prohibition implied in the competition law against strong concentration of power within one group of companies might be used in the media sector, in the case of violation of diversity and the right to free speech, the committee suggested.
The Minister of Culture concluded that it is not possible to apply competition law on the Swedish media sector. Ms. Ulvskog would have liked to see clear cut rules aimed especially at the sector, where the development towards concentration has been a source of worry during the past 10 – 15 years, but the necessary majority in the parliament to enforce new law does not exist at the moment, she states.
Source: The Ministry of Culture
14 November 2001: The analog terrestrial television net to be closed down by 2007, committee suggests
“Digital television – modernisation of the terrestrial net" ("Digital TV – modernisering av marknätet") is the title of the report from the committee appointed by the government to review and suggest solutions concerning the development of the Swedish digital terrestrial net. The committee suggests among other things that the analog terrestrial television net should be closed down by 2007.
In spring 1997, the Swedish Parliament decided that digital terrestrial TV was to be introduced in Sweden. Transmissions started on April 1, 1999 in a number of areas. Digital terrestrial TV has since then been been introduced in a number of stages.
The analysis made by the governmental digital television committee shows that the process towards digitalisation of the terrestrial net for television is based on correct and necessary decisions, a press release from the Ministry of Culture states.
The transition to digital distribution is an inevitable development of the TV media. Everybody seem to agree on the conclusion that it is unreasonable to keep analog systems for distribution of television signals, when all the other systems of communications are being digitalised, ms. Ann-Christin Nykvist, chairman of the committee said, when handing over the report to the Minister of Culture, ms. Marita Ulvskog.
According to the press release, it is of vital importance to close down the analog television transmissions as soon as possible, which will result in annual savings of SEK 500 million. In order to achieve this, the committee suggests that the transition to digital technology should be stimulated.
Certain means are necessary to reach the goal, among them a near full digital TV coverage of the Swedish population and the use of open standards in all phases of development.
Source: The Ministry of Culture
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18 December 2001: EU Commission clears Scandinavian digital satellite TV broadcasting agreement
The European Commission has cleared an agreement between two Swedish companies, Nordiska Satellitaktiebolaget (NSAB) and Modern Times Group AB (MTG) for the upgrading of MTG's analogue satellite broadcasting operations to digital broadcasting, a press release from the EU Commission states. The agreement between the two Swedish companies is pro-competitive as it facilitates the deployment of new digital technology to the benefit of television viewers in the Nordic countries.
Digital TV is to TV what CD is to sound, i.e. provides a superior picture and sound quality and is also used for interactive services such as pay-per-view TV. Canal Digital was the only provider of digital direct-to-home television services in Scandinavia until early this year when MTG also entered the market. Canal Digital was created by Europe's biggest pay-TV provider Canal+ and Telenor of Norway. l Telenor recently acquired Canal+'s share of the joint venture.
The deal between NSAB and Modern Times will, therefore, be good for Scandinavian consumers who will benefit from the upgrading of analogue to digital transmission and will be given a wider choice of television channels at more competitive prices.
NSAB is a Swedish satellite operator. It owns the three Sirius satellites, which offer pan-European satellite coverage appropriate for direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television reception with antennas not larger than 60 cm. NSAB is owned by the state owned Swedish Space Corporation and Société Européenne des Satellites S.A., the owner of the Astra satellites, the press release states.
Source: The European Commission
20 November 2001: Sale of Scandinavia Online AB
Schibsted (Norway), Telenor (Norway) and Telia (Sweden) have signed an agreement to sell their shares in Internet company Scandinavia Online AB to Eniro AB for SEK 11.50 per share in cash. Combined the three owners control 76 percent of the share capital in Scandinavia Online AB, Schibsted announces in a press release.
The decision to sell the shares Scandinavia Online AB follows the announcements made by the same parties on November 2, where the three owners informed that they had entered into a letter of intent regarding a joint process to sell their shares.
Completion of the sale, which is conditional to Eniro AB reaching acceptance for over 90 percent of the shares in Scandinavia Online AB, is expected before the end of the year. For further details regarding the public offer by Eniro AB, we refer to the prospectus issued by Eniro AB in conjunction with the offer made to the remaining shareholders of Scandinavia Online AB.
Schibsted owns 15.7 million shares (34.6 percent) in SOL. This transaction will generate SEK 180 million for Schibsted with a capital gain of about NOK 7 million after deduction of translation differences and transaction costs.
1 November 2001: Slight turbulence for Orkla Media
The report covering the first nine months of 2001 from the Norwegian-based Orkla Group shows that Orkla Media felt the impact of the economic climate in the form of lower advertising revenues. Orkla Media operates in the Nordic and Baltic region.
According to a press release from the Group, Orkla Media reported operating profit, before other revenues and expenses, of NOK 89 million for the first nine months, down from NOK 114 million last year. The third quarter is generally a slow period for the media sector, but the general downturn in the advertising market, particularly in Denmark and Poland, reinforced this trend.
Profit for the third quarter alone was a negative NOK -20 million. This fall in profit is primarily attributable to Newspapers Eastern Europe, which posted weak growth in advertising sales in the third quarter, and to Berlingske in Denmark. Significant rationalisation measures were implemented to counter the negative trend, and Orkla Media reduced its total man-years by 440 in the course of the year, according to the press release.
Source: The European Commission
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