Strengthening the Danish public service TV
An agreement dated 20 January 1995 has been entered to strengthen the Danish public service TV. The agreement was between the Government and the left-wing Socialistisk Folkeparti, and contains the following elements:
1) Danish Radio will be allowed to start trials with a satellite channel which employs new technology, and which will be a supplement to current programming transmitted from masts. The purpose of the extra channel, which is planned to be fully
operational by 1998, is to give the Danish people the opportunity to select either education or entertainment in the Danish language, in addition to a number of narrow programmes. This will be possible if one programme sent in prime time on one channel can be sent on the other channel at a different time.
The condition is that both building and operational costs for the new channel are covered by Danish Radio inside the licence agreement of 16 September 1993 and the budget framework established there, and
also that the programmes of the new satellite channel are covered by the "must carry" rule.
2) Danish Radio is allowed to start trials transmitting the current three and partly a new radio channel based on digital technology (Digital Audio Broadcast, or DAB) in a limited geographical area. Also, the company is allowed to use the vacant FM channel (the so-called P4) in the period until 1 January 1998 for parallel broadcasting of the new DAB programme.
The DAB technology, which is currently entering several European countries, means significantly improved sound quality (CD quality) compared to the current FM transmission - particularly for portable radios.
The condition is that both building and operational costs for the new channel are covered by Danish Radio inside the licence agreement of 16 September 1993 and the budget framework established there, and that the fourth FM frequency is given to a company outside Danish Radio after 1 January 1998.
3) TV 2 Nationwide will be allowed, during the remaining of the licence period, to transfer a total of 50 million DEK from the TV 2 fund beyond the agreed-upon budget. The condition is that the advertising revenue exceed the estimates of the licence agreement dated 16 September 1993. The plan for the extra TV 2 revenue is to spend it to create more Danish high quality programmes, which will be necessary to meet the competition from foreign channels with quality rather than cheap series. Since TV 2 Nationwide will be particularly prone to increasing competition, it is
suggested that the entire amount is spent here.
4) The agreement stipulates that new legislation is introduced in the autumn of 1995 which grants sufficient authority for Danish Radio (and TV 2) to establish new satellite channels.
The 1994 annual report from the Satellite and Cable Board
The Satellite and Cable Board has recently published its 1994 annual report to the Minister of Culture.
The Board is finally responsible for the administrative decisions on granting programming permits for satellite
and cable transmissions, retraction or termination of such permits for such programming activities and also has the duty to point out any transgression of the law or any regulations stipulated by it. In addition, the Board advises the Minister on satellite
or cable programming. According to the annual report, the Satellite and Cable Board has granted six programming permissions for TV transmitted by satellite or cable in 1994:
Permissions for satellite programming has been granted to two companies; G.O. Marketing Aps and Danish Satellite TV Broadcasting A/S.
These permissions have one thing in common: the target group for the transmissions is primarily the European market. G.O. Marketing Aps. also intends to cover the Near East, Northern Africa, USA, Canada and Southern America.
Since the programming will contain pornographic films, the permissions have been granted on the condition that the rules for protection of children are observed. Among other things, this means that pornographic films may only be t
ransmitted after midnight, and such pornographic films may only be received by an individually owned decoder.
In addition, four other companies have been granted rights for programming transmitted on cable networks. These are:
* MultiChoice A/S. This company intends to offer a "pay-as-you-go" service which will primarily contain Danish and foreign films, children's programmes and sports.
* CIAC A/S. This is a Danish information channel which was launched under the name DK4. The programmes will cover politics, society, environment, entertainment, culture, education in addition to debates and business material. The channel started transmissions on 1 December 1994, and is, for the time being, the only example of a channel who has taken advantage of the programming permission from the Satellite and Cable Board.
* The company Pay Per View in Denmark. The company intends to send pay TV with a mixture of programmes which are primarily entertaining: films, series, sport and children's programmes.
* The company Pay Per View in Denmark. This permit allows the company to make different video games available.
Finally, the Satellite and Cable Board has granted concession to a satellite radio. The company in question is Voice of Scandinavia.
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Youth radio has started
A new special radio intended for youth started broadcasting at the end of March. Radio Kiss contains mostly music, and can be heard in Helsinki, &Aaring;bo, Tammerfors and Uleåborg. The transmissions are aimed at youth between the ages of 15 and 25.
Radio Kiss announces that it in particular is competing with the YLE youth channel called Radio Mafia. It believes that it will also capture listeners from private local radio stations. Radio Kiss is attempting to reach about 50% of the target group on a weekly basis even this autumn. The new radio finances its activities by nationwide commercials for trade mark companies. Radio Kiss will focus on hit music. The choice of music is based on wishes collected among potential listeners.
According to the concession
conditions, the programs and the commercials must be sent simultaneously in all areas of operation. The youth radio employs 17 people. Radio Kiss is owned by Radio Sata (which in turn is owned by Scandinavian Broadcasting System SA), and by Radio City.
TV advertising on the increase in Finland
The Finnish commercial TV company MTV increased its annual income by more than 14 % in 1994. According to preliminary figures, the total advertising market in Finland was almost four billion FIM, a 7 % increase compared to 1993. TV advertising had 20 % of the market and the increase in this sector was more than twice as high as in the market seen as a whole.
MTV3, Finland`s third nationwide TV station, had a share of the viewing audience equal to that of the two YLE stations together. The only station increasing its share of the audience was YLE1, with 1,3 %.
MTV3 increased its program production by more than 18 % in 1994, and the share of Finnish language programmes was 55,6%.
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Electronic media buys part of newspaper
In February, the Icelandic Radio Company A/S bought a 35% share in the Free Press A/S (Frjáls fjölmidlun hf.) The Icelandic Radio Company runs TV 2 and a multi-channel TV (which distributes foreign TV programmes), and also the two radio stations Bylgjan and Stjarnan. Free Press A/S publishes two newspapers and one magazine, and also runs a printing shop. The leadership of the companies expressed that there would be no changes in the current operations of the respective companies, but the intention is to investigate the opportunities for electronic publishing and multimedia, where pictures, text, sound and moving pictures are combined.
In connection with this change of ownership, a public debate arose concerning the ownership of mass media, and the matter was discussed in the Parliament. It was pointed out that the projected turnover of electronic media in 1993 was 4 billion ISK, of which the Icelandic Radio Company enjoyed a share of 37%. In magazine publishing, the compound yearly turnover of 1993 was more than 3 billion ISK, of which the Free Press share was about 34%. The combined turnover of the two companies is estimated at 2.5 billion ISK.
Much interest to run radio stations in Iceland
The Radio Board's report from the period 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1994 has been made public. The primary task of the Radio Board is to grant transmission permits to radio stations and monitor that laws and regulations concerning private radio stations
are being observed. This is the third board report since it was first established in 1986. The current chairman is Mr. Kjartan Gunnarson.
Among other things, the report contains tables of transmission permits granted in the above mentioned period. It is striking that many permissions have been granted for a shorter period of time (two months or less). In the period covered by the report, the
Radio Board granted 58 permissions to school radio stations and 88 permissions for short-time radio activity.
The report also contains an overview of long-term permissions. It shows that in the period from 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1994, the Radio Board granted 12 concessions for TV activity. Of these, one was for TV transmissions on the UHF frequency, one was
for microwave TV and one for cable TV.
Five permissions were granted for relay transmission of TV by microwave over an extended period of time, and three permissions were granted for temporary relay transmissions. 23 permissions were granted for radio transmission over a longer period, but in some cases, these were renewals of previous permissions.
In December 1994, five permissions for TV and 13 for radio were granted for a longer period of time. In addition, there were eight current permissions for relay transmission of foreign programmes.
Relay transmissions allowed
In 1993, legal changes were made that allowed for relay transmission of programmes from foreign TV stations. The interest to maintain such relay transmissions is great, and a total of ten
applications were made for relay transmission permissions. Of these, four were for limited areas in the provinces, one nation-wide, while the others wanted permissions only for the capital and surrounding areas. The applicants wanted to transmit from eight
to 18 channels. Only one of the applicants, the Icelandic Radio Company A/S, complied with the legal requirements to have permission from the foreign stations for the relay transmissions.
Only few complaints from the users have been filed
in the period covered. For example, one complaint was concerned with the treatment of an interview which was conducted and transmitted without the knowledge of the interviewee, and another complaint was about the showing of trade marks in a programme. The report shows that the Board arranged a meeting between representatives from the radio stations and the Consumer Association. The topic of discussion was the overlap between advertising and programming.
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The report from the ownership commission published
A public commission which has evaluated media ownership presented its report on 21 February 1995. The report, called Media Diversity (NOU 1995:3), was presented to the Department of Culture.
The commission has mapped media ownership, evaluated various consequences of ownership concentration and the need for regulatory measures in this field.
The commission suggests a new media law to emphasise the protection of freedom of speech and journalistic integrity, and ensure media diversity.
According to the suggestion, the media law will post restrictions on ownership in different media groups. It will impose regulations on media companies to actively publish information about ownership and ensure the public right to information about ownership matters.
The commission suggests upper thresholds for ownership of press and broadcasting companies, but also believes that the media companies needs for capital and the competitive situation makes it impossible for the limitations to be too strict.
The majority of the commission suggests: No participant, meaning a corporation and its owners, may own newspapers which contribute more than 30 percent of the compound daily newspaper circulation in Norway.
In addition, the majority suggests that dominating participants in the print media (owners with more than 10% of the compound daily newspaper circulation in Norway), may own parts of other dominating participants. Furthermore, the majority wishes that the
current concession bound limit of 1/3 of ownership shares in nation-wide radio and TV companies is made permanent. Also, it is suggested that Norwegian TV companies are allowed to own 100% of an additional channel.
As far as regulation of ownership in the local broadcasting area is concerned, the unanimous commission suggests that the current rules are suspended and replaced by regulations based on the following principles:
* no participant may control more than 30 percent of the total local broadcasting market on a national level of local TV and local radio respectively.
* no single participant may have access to more than one frequency per concession area.
* no newspaper may have a deciding voice in more than one of the local broadcasting media in the area where there is only one frequency for local TV and local radio respectively.
No regulations are proposed for regulating various forms of cross ownership beyond the rule which limits possibility for dominating participants to own parts of each other. Furthermore, no new regulation is suggested concerning the limitation of foreign ownership of Norwegian media.
The report has been sent on a hearing to important participants and institutions in the media area.
Action plan against violence in visual media
On 2 March 1995, the Government presented an action plan against violence in visual media. The action plan has surfaced on the initiative by the Minister of Culture, Ms. Åse Kleveland, and the Minister of Justice, Ms. Grete Faremo. It is based on active participation from important industry organisations, voluntary organisations, institutions and other departments.
The three year action plan contains about 60 measures, mostly focused on mobilisation, information and attitude building. In addition, the legislation and control mechanisms will be revised, and a strengthening of re of visual media violence is included. Children and youth is the primary target group.
The action plan will be followed up with a secretariat under the Ministry of Culture. A total of 6.6 million NOK will be allocated to the various measures in the action plan. In addition, participating agencies and institutions will contribute from regular budget funds.
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Political disagreement about council of diversity
The government has now appointed a council of diversity in mass media. The council is supposed to follow the development in the media area concerning competition and diversity, and suggest measures to counteract harmful concentration of ownership and power. However, the council has no authority concerning changes of ownership or the establishment of new activity in the mass media area. The government will evaluate the continuation of the council's activities in connection with the 1998 budget proposal.
The council is chaired by Mr. Johan Munck, who is a judge. Other members include the journalists Ms. Maria-Pia Boethius and Ms. Carmilla Floyd, the professors Ms. Anna Christensen, Mr. Stig Hadenius and Mr. Lennart Weibull, and finally Mr. Thomas Roxström, who is a managing director.
The plans for the "council of diversity" have caused a lively debate, since the critics have seen the council as a media authority able to stop ownership changes in the media area. Among others, the association of newspaper publicists has protested and asked the government to change its decision. Many people have questioned a phrase in the council charter which specifies that the council will look into needs for and possibilities for voluntary agreements in the media market to facilitate a strengthening of diversity and competition and to counteract harmful concentration of ownership and power.
Local radio should change
In a report concerning the commercialisation of local radio, the Radio and TV Board proposes that the rules for local radio are changed. Currently, the transmission rights are owned by various local non-profit organisation. The proposal suggests that a special association be established for the purpose of transmitting local radio, and that this association in turn can make transmission time available to various local co-operating efforts.
When there is disagreement about transmission times, the Radio and TV Board will be able to mediate. If the concession is abused, it may be retracted. The Board also suggests that commercials, which have been allowed in local radio since 1 April 1993, will
no longer be allowed and that the local radio fee is abandoned.
According to the report, the transmissions from more than half of the 158 local radio stations consist of association business, 30% is used for a combination of entertainment, local and association radio, while a little more than 15% is used mostly for transmissions which are "basically profit-oriented". Only in the large cites, associations have sufficient resources to fill local radio with association programs.
Budget cut for public service?
In the budget proposal presented in January, the government suggests that Swedish Television, Swedish Radio and Swedish Educational Radio must cut spending at the same level as government agencies. The resources allocated to programming should be 11% or 525 million SEK lower, calculated in fixed prices, in the year 1998 compared to the 1995 budget. The cuts are to be distributed evenly over the years, starting on 1 July 1995.
Since the public service company budgets are being cut, the concession fees paid by TV 4 and currently going into the radio account, may go directly to the Treasury. This will cut the deficit by approximately 300 million SEK yearly.
As one would expect, the government proposition has lead to reactions from the companies affected by it. The best criticism has been voiced by the chairman of Swedish Radio, Mr. Ove Joanson, while the SVT chairman Mr. Sam Nilsson has been more subdued.
"In order for Swedish Television to be able to make the cuts without a reduction in quality, the news activity must be reorganised, and the current split between Channel 1 as a Stockholm channel and TV 2 as a nation-wide channel must be changed," says Mr. Nilsson.
The current organisation has been determined by the Parliament, but the TV chairman hopes that it will make the necessary changes in conjunction with the implementation of budget cut proposals.
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