The Information Society in the Year 2000 and the Media Task Group
Recently, two new committees that are of interest for those interested in radio
and TV have been established. One is the Prime Minister's Media Task Group, the
other is the Ministry of Finance's committee named "The Information Society in
the Year 2000". The Media Task Group will primarily discuss how the Danish
media situation will be formed in years to come. How can we establish media
policies that secure freedom of speech, variety, freedom of choice and other
elements that characterise a democratic society?
Beyond an analysis of future media development, the committee will also
describe how the media world has changed and developed since the Media
Commission of the mid-80's followed this area closely. The committee will
conclude their work with a report to be presented in 1996.
The Media Task Group consists of representatives from, among others, the Prime
Minister's office and the ministries of Culture, Communication and Tourism,
trade organisations, employer and employee organisations and other institutions
interested in mass media.
"The Information Society in the Year 2000" committee will work for a
significantly shorter period of time. The two members must complete their work
by 1 September this autumn. They are Ms. Lone Dybkjær, a Member of
Parliament representing the Radikale Venstre party, and Mr. Søren
Christensen, head of the central public administration in Copenhagen.
Among other things, the committee will consider which opportunities Denmark has
in the information society at the turn of the millennium. It will also consider
how the expectations can be fulfilled; that the new information technology
will contribute to economic growth, increased openness in society, etc.
The two-person committee will make proposals for new information policies. They are supposed to suggest legislative changes or simplifications in order for
more people to benefit from the new opportunities and freedoms represented by
the new information tchnology. The committee will single out areas in which it
is particularly beneficial to exploit information technology. The committee
mandate mentions remote teaching, the use of communication in the health
sector, individual TV distribution and electronic home service.
Law proposal to abandon the TV license
The political party Fremskridtspartiet has made a law proposal to abandon the
TV license in Denmark. The proposal contains a clause where the TV license is
done away with, but is maintained for the radio division of Denmark's Radio. The TV division is supposed to generate revenue from encoding of programmes,
subscription or similar schemes. The same will be the case for TV 2, in case
the advertising revenue is insufficient.
The Government has rejected the proposal, arguing that a new license agreement,
valid for the years 1994 to 1997, has just been made. However, the Minister
pointed out that obviously it will be hard to say exactly what happens in 1998
at the end of the license period.
The Minister emphasised that the agreement partners in the recent negotiations
have undertaken an obligation to discuss the number of nation-wide channels and
how these are financed. The Minister pointed out that she found it hard to see
how it would be possible to maintain nation-wide channels with public service
obligations without some kind of public funding.The other political parties
also rejected the proposal. It should be noted, however, that among all
parties, there was a consensus to evaluate whether it will be possible to
maintain licensing in the long run. It is important to start this discussion
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New local radio concessions granted nation-wide
The Government has granted a new round of radio concession for the next five
years. All the currently active local radios who applied, were granted a new
concession. In addition, six new local radio stations and two new special radio
concessions were granted. The three applications for nation-wide radio
broadcasting, including an application from the TV company MTV Ab, were
postponed by the Government.
The conditions of the concessions were not changed much. From now on, the radio
stations are only allowed to transmit one hour of common broadcasts from 6 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. At other times, there are no limits for
Regulations concerning the division of programming and advertising in local
radios, have also been clarified. The daily allotment of advertising must not
exceed 10% of the program time. Textual advertising is forbidden, and
sponsoring must be announced both at the start and at the end of a broadcast.
Regulations concerning advertising are co-ordinated with similar regulations
for TV broadcasting. All actors in the local radio arena were granted
concessions with similar regulations. This meant that there is now no division
between commercial and non-commercial concessions.
In addition to local radios, two special radio stations were also granted
concessions. Classic Radio Ab, which currently operates in the Helsinki area,
was allowed to spread the activity to 18 cities and surrounding urban areas.
This classical radio station wants to expand its programming from the current
foundation through an increased attention to news. The aim is also to transmit
directly from top concerts in England and Holland, and also from Finland to
One of the owners of the Classic Radio will be the English Classic FM, who has
a concession for nation-wide broadcasting in England and Holland.
The other special radio to be granted concession is a youth station. The
purpose is to create a radio channel to be active in regions around Helsinki,
Tammerfors, Åbo and Uleåborg with programming aimed at listeners
between 15 and 20. Programs and advertising on Classic Radio and on the youth channel must be sent simultaneously in all the broadcasting areas. A total of 104 applications were submitted for local radio concessions, and 59 were granted. The lack of available channels restricts the granting of more
concessions in the largest cities.
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Iceland successful in MEDIA
A full year has now passed since Iceland became full members of the EU MEDIA project. Applications from Icelandic film producers have been well received,
and 8 projects have obtained loans from the European Script Fund. 4 projects
have received loans for project work from Documentary, and 3 have received
loans for distribution from the same institution.
Two projects have received loans for sub-titles/dubbing from Babel. One
Icelandic company has received a loan for distribution of videos and two
Icelandic cinemas have been allowed to show European films in Iceland.
Icelandic film companies have likewise received loans from Incentive Funding
and from Scale.
The Celebration of the Republic-film is restored
This year, Iceland celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Republic. It has been
decided that the Icelandic Film Museum in co-operation with the Parliament will
restore the film to celebrate the establishment of the Republic. This film was
originally made at the request of the National Committee in 1944. It is a 70
minute colour film with audio. It was recorded at Thingvellir, where the people
celebrated the establishment of the Republic. This is where this year's
celebration took place on 17 June, just like 50 years ago. At the moment,
preparations are being made to show the film at movie theatres. Hopefully, it
will be possible to show it late this summer.
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White paper on broadcasting and newspapers
The Ministry of Culture has presented a White Paper on broadcasting and
newspapers (St.meld.no.42, 1993-94).
The White Paper covers the activities of NRK (public service), TV2, P4 and the
national media commission. Furthermore, the White Paper discusses the
development of print media and other relevant media questions.
The White Paper suggests an upper limit for NRK sponsor income, equal to 1% of
the total budget. For the year 1994, this will amount to approximately 22 MNOK.
Up to 50% of this may come from private sector companies. In the future, NRK
must present an overview of the sponsor income in their annual reports. The
value of indirect sponsoring activities must also be included. The Ministry
also suggests the establishment of a new broadcasting commission. Among other
tasks, this body will monitor the programming in NRK, TV2 and P4 to ensure
that it maintains the broad profile they are committed to. According to the
Ministry, TV2 and P4 have so far not fulfilled the conditions of their
concessions with respect to a varied program menu for different target groups.
It is suggested that the commercial TV channels will be allowed to send
advertising in connection with breaks in TV films. The condition is that other
programmes are broadcast in the break and that they last at least 20 minutes.
Press organisations, the largest broadcasting companies and the Association of
Local Radios have suggested that a common board of complaints can replace the
current system with two boards for printed and broadcasting media. The
Department will consider the establishment of such a board, where all media
will be represented and self justice will be the basic principle.
When the White Paper was discussed in June, the Parliamentary committee for
Family, Culture and Administration decided that a more detailed study of local
broadcasting in Norway was necessary.
The committee asks that an additional White Paper which defines the role of
local broadcasting, how it will be funded and how it will relate to other
players in the media area is presented. The committee will only start the
consideration of St.meld.no. 4 when the additional White Paper is available.
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Four radio authorities become two
On 1 July 1994, two new radio and TV authorities will be established. The Radio
and TV Office will handle questions regarding permission, registration and
excise for all kinds of radio and TV broadcasts to the public. The
Investigation Board for radio and TV will be given the task to monitor how
various rules are being followed. For example, the board will examine the use
of advertising and the contents of programming in general. The four current
authorities in this field (see NMN 1/94) will be terminated.
The hottest issue during the Parliamentary treatment of the change was where
the new authorities should be located. The Minister of Culture asked Mr.
Lennart Sandgren, the former chief administrator of Stockholm County, to look
into the question. Mr. Sandgren suggested that the new authorities should be
located in Haninge, 20 kilometres south of Stockholm, which also became the
Lower budget for film culture; the leader resigns
Ms. Ingrid Edström has resigned as the leader of the Swedish Film
Institute foundation. She claims that the reason is the lower funding for the
foundation. The Parliament has decided that the budget for film cultural
activities should be cut by 7 MSEK to 59 MSEK for the budgetary year 1994/95.
This is the amount suggested by the Government in their budget. According to
the Parliamentary decision, the Film Institute should not compete with other
organisations or institutions inside the film area who are involved in similar
activities. At least 21 MSEK must be used for activities aimed at children and
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Nordic Panorama 1994
Reykjavik 21 to 25 September is the time and location for the large Nordic
festival called Nordic Panorama. This is the increasingly important yearly
event for Nordic documentary and short films held by Filmkontakt Nord,
Copenhagen. A main reason is that it has been the foundation for the
establishment of a Nordic Forum for co-financing of documentaries. This takes
part in Reykjavik on 22 and 23 September, during the festival itself.
Last year, in Kristianstad, Sweden, about twenty people responsible for
co-financing met for the first time. The results were so encouraging that
Filmkontakt Nord decided to extend the Form in 1994.
The aim of the Forum for co-financing is to offer filmmakers and producers the
opportunity to meet representatives for a number of potential financing
sources, meaning big TV companies and other institutions who can buy or finance
productions. All the bigTV companies will be present in Reykjavik. Mr. Thomas
Stenderup, the former Secretary General of the EU Documentary Programme, is in
the finishing stages of an investigation of the establishment of a Nordic sales
office for short and documentary films. It will be discussed during a Nordic
Panorama meeting on 24 September. The discussion is important in order to make
the sales office a good tool for independent filmmakers and producers. By
themselves, the five Nordic countries are small. Together, the short and
documentary filmmakers constitute a cultural block of European importance.
According to Ms. Kerstin Hagerup, director of Filmkontakt Nord, documentary
film enjoys a b position in the Nordic countries. She points out that as
many as four Nordic films were selected for the main competition at the 5th
international documentary film festival in Marseilles in mid-June.
NORDICOM is granted support for a new information service
In the years 1995 and 1996, NORDICOM, the Nordic Documentation Centre for mass
media communication re, will be granted 715 000 SEK from the Nordic
Council of Ministers for a new information service about Nordic media
In a European perspective, NORDICOM is a network enjoying a good reputation,
and it has been asked to act as a correspondent for the European Audiovisual Observatory at Strasbourg.
NORDICOM Sweden is well established at the Gothenburg University and NORDICOM Norway has now been established at the Bergen University. In Finland, the
Statistics Centre provides media statistics. Today, Denmark and Iceland do not
have continuously updated media statistics. The work carried out at a national
level must be funded locally, while statistical work at a Nordic level will be
supported by Nordic grants.
One of the main points in the application for the establishment of NORDICOM's
information service is that knowledge of the media system requires qualified
documentation of the media development. The core of this work is the
establishment of current Nordic, statistical material.
Many autumn events for Nordic film
This autumn, many important events related to production and distribution of Nordic films and TV programmes take place.
The future of the Nordic Film and TV fund is in the melting pot. Through negotiations with the current fund parties; the public service organisations, the film institutes and the Nordic Council of Ministers, the direction of the future for the fund will be determined. A crucial point in the negotiations is an increased participation in film distribution on the part of the fund.
On 26 and 27 August, a study of Nordic distribution of film and TV programmes, sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, will be presented at a seminar in Haugesund. The seminar will be held in conjunction with the Norwegian Film Festival. This is the third in a series of seminars about Nordic film distribution. The first one was held in Oslo in November of 1993, and the second took place in Gothenburg last winter. The study to be presented in Haugesund considers all the links in the chain from production to distribution. After three seminars on the topic of Nordic film distribution, the time seems ripe to draw some conclusions and effectuate some of the best proposals that have been put forward.
Nordic short films and documentaries is also subject to a study. Responsible for this one is Filmkontakt Nord, in Copenhagen, and the study is sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers. One aspect of the study is to evaluate a sales office for Nordic short films and documentaries, while another is to present new material about production and distribution at a national and a Nordic level. Filmkontakt Nord will present the study for discussion during the short film and documentary festival Nordic Panorama in Reykjavik at the end of September. At that point, the study has been subject to an extensive round of commenting.
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