Further liberalisation of telecommunications
Mr. Frank Jensen, the Minister of Re, is ready to set the day for full liberalisation of the Danish telecommunication sector, including nets for both data and telephones, to mid-1996 rather than the original date of 1 January 1998.
The Minister said this on 18 October 1995 at a conference called "Competition in Telecommunications", held by the Teletechnical Society.
"My hope is that the Government agrees with the opposition on a broad, political agreement of principles in the telecommunication field before Christmas. If this happens, I am prepared to change the date to the middle of 1996", Mr. Frank Jensen says.
The Minister of Re maintains that the date for full liberalisation is not of major importance. "The most important thing is that the basis for necessary regulations is in place before the infrastructure becomes subject to competition", Mr. Frank Jensen maintains.
This means that a great part of the so-called step 2 telecommunication legislation will take place as soon as in the spring of 1996, while additional regulation will take part in the autumn of 1996. The main elements of the spring legislation will be a framework for an obligation to provide given services (teleservices which must be available for everyone) and a preliminary regulation of co-traffic between competing companies.
The Minister's initiative is based on the EU Commission and their desires for a partial move of the target date for telecommunication liberalisation from 1 January 1998 to mid-1996. However, the Commission does not move the date for liberalisation of the infrastructure used for common telephone services.
"The distinction between data and telephone services is impossible to handle. For that reason, I intend to move faster than the Commission", Mr. Jensen claims.
White Paper on electronic media
In October 1995, the White Paper no. 1300 on electronic media was published by
the Government Media Commission. The White Paper was very well received, both in political circles and by the press, who pointed out that the White Paper contains much valuable and interesting information.The items below only covers one aspect of the White Paper: The possible structure of the future radio and TV landscape. A majority of the commission were able to support this combination model.
Recommendations in the radio and TV field
Recommendations that change the current radio and TV structure are marked with an *. Among the most significant are:
- DR and TV 2 are converted to public companies
- DR and TV 2 take over owner rights to the senders
- P4 is given to DR
- Local idealistic stations receive public support
- Local radio stations are, to a limited degree, allowed to network
- Local TV frequencies are offered on a concession basis
- Advertising rules to conform with the EU level.
1. DR and TV 2
DR and TV 2 continue to be public service institutions. DR will be license based, while TV 2 will get revenue from advertising and license fees.
* DR and TV 2 are to present public service records.
* Programming areas to be strengthened
* Both DR and TV 2/Denmark are converted to public companies, which gives them increased freedom to initiate new activities. In that connection, TV 2 will be released of their debt. An opening is created for TV 2 regional stations also to be converted to p
ublic companies, if this turns out to be appropriate.
* TV 2 and TVR merge.
* The license is to be fixed for several years at the time. The radio fund and the TV 2 fund are terminated. The budget framework is done away with.
* DR and TV 2 take over the rights to their respective sender systems. Other users are secured the rights they enjoy today.
* DR must take responsibility for - to a lesser extent than TV 2 - enterprise liabilities.
DR is maintained as a collective unit, and will not be split into a radio and a TV part.
If the advertising revenue of TV 2 is insufficient, this will be compensated by an increase in the to
tal license, and not by a re-distribution of the current license. The increase of license will be agreed upon in connection with multiyear license periods.
The regional stations of TV 2 continue as a part of TV 2, but are given more transmission time on the nation-wide TV 2 programme. Their independence is maintained.
* P4 is given to DR.
* The nation-wide DAB block (Digital Audio Broadcasting) should be used by DR for parallel transmission of three nation-wide radio programmes. The two regional DAB blocks are used for parallel transmission of regional radio. The (few) other DAB possibilities will later be offered as concessions. The third TV channel is used for digitalisation. DR and TV 2 both get two digital channels -
- one of them for parallel transmissions.
3. The local stations
* The idealistic local radio and TV stations should be given governmental support (national budget/lottery funds/ regional college model/municipal media workshops). The support will be granted by a central committ
ee. The stations are not allowed advertising revenue.
* The local radio structure is maintained as today, but a door is opened for a broader area of coverage (meaning more municipalities).
* Networks (called co-transmissions in the White Paper) are allowed local radios, but only to a certain extent, such as night time radio and news transmissions.
* Local TV frequencies are offered as concessions. The highest bidding station gets the concession, which gives a monopoly on terrestrial-based local TV in the area. The station must send local material and programmes on current issues. It must provide time for non-commercial local TV stations. The concession fees are inserted into a fund to support idealistic local radio and TV stations.
Local TV stations are not allowed to co-broadcast. (However, there is a actually a majority in the Media Commission to allow such networking among local TV stations).
4. Advertising rules
* The current rules for advertising are co-ordinated with EU rules. However, commercial interrupts in programmes are not allowed.
* Advertising is allowed in cable based TV.
* Local insertion of advertising is allowed.
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New leadership for the film foundation
The executive council for Finland's film foundation has appointed the former resource manager of Yleisradion, Jouni Mykkanen, as the managing director and the information manager of Villealfa Oy, Erkki Astala, as the production manager.
The management is to contain seven persons, and reports to the Ministry of Education, but has not be
en fully appointed yet. In connection with the appointments, the board, which has been in existence since 1982, was closed. The same was the case for the production board, which has consisted of experts in the field. The film foundation regulations were al
Nordic seminar on radio re
October 26 - 29 1995 the University of Tampere hosted a Nordic seminar on radio re. The seminar was based on the initiative by the universities of Gothenburg, Tampere and Århus. It is a part of the Nordic Ph.D program financed by NorFa (Nordisk Forskarutbildningsakademi, the Nordic academy for the education of scientists).
In the Nordic countries, parallel to the changes in radio broadcasting, an expansion and reorganization of communication and media studies has taken place.
The seminar`s main focus was on whether these changes have created space for new relevance of radio re as a part of academic education and re.
TF/T.Hujanen, Univ. of Tampere
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Vivid competition in the TV market
There has been lively activity in the Icelandic TV market in the last few weeks. A new TV station, Stöð 3 (TV 3) started transmitting on 24 November. Stöð 3 transmits four foreign TV programmes: MTV, Discovery, Eurosport, and CNN. In addition, the station
offers its own programmes. At first, these will consist mainly of foreign programmes, such as films, programmes for children, series, music, and sport. The station owners do not have in mind to produce local programmes, but will purchase material. Stö
ð 3 transmits on microwave frequencies, at first to the area around the capital, and the transmissions are encoded. The license for Stöð 3 will cost about ISK 2,000 per month.
The week before, Syn hf. started broadcasting of a new programme. Syn has been on the air for several years, and has, among other things, transmitted directly from the debate in the Parliament, and has also shown educational programmes. In the last year and a half, there has been a contract between Syn and Stöð 2 under which Stöð 2 has used Syn's channel due to changes in the decoder system of Stöð 2. Until now, Syn has not required license for the broadcasts, but this has now changed, and the license will be approximately ISK 2,000 per month. The programming consists of foreign material, films, action series, music videos and sport. Syn is broadcast on a VHF channel, and TV 2 and Icelandic TV is found on the same frequency.
Obviously, the offering to TV viewers in the south-western part of Iceland has increased lately. Already, Stöð 2 had a mixed offering containing, among other things, current issues, films, sport, series, debates, programmes for children, and news. Neither Stöð 3 nor Syn will transmit news. As pointed out above, Stöð 2 transmits on VHF frequencies, while the Christian Omega station transmits on UHF frequencies. This station transmits Christian programmes to the capital area only. Finally, on the microwave frequencies, Fjölvarp (Multi TV) has been alone with eight channels, but has now received competition from Stöð 3 on these frequencies.
Evaluation of RUV activity
In October, the report from the Auditor General concerning the activity at Iceland's Radio was made available. The report was prepared on an initiative from the financial committee in the Parliament. In the report, it is assumed that the ownership of Iceland's Radio remains unchanged and that the institution still is financed by mandatory license fees. The most important issue is that the two programmes, 1 and 2, should be independent in the production of programmes. The programmes are supposed to overlap each other, and this means that the programmes frequently compete for the same audience.
Furthermore, it is suggested that the news and sports departments are merged, which will make them more competitive. A merger of news departments will also make it possible to save on costs. It is also suggested that programming lead by the TV managing director is stopped and transferred to other main departments in TV. Finally, the report suggests that the radio director is elected for a given period and that he alone be responsible to the Ministry of Education and the Radio Council for all radio activity.
These are all suggestions, and there is no further information about if or when the suggestions will have any influence on the activity of Iceland's Radio.The report points out that according to Icelandic law, the functions of Iceland's Radio are somewhat
broader and more complicated than for other radio stations. This goes not only for the programming, but also
concerns other duties of the institution, such as providing a distribution system, a security function and other services which Iceland's Radio is supposed to offer. The economic independence and the mandatory license fees are based on this.
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Announcement of concessions for local TV
The deadline for submitting applications for local TV was 1 October 1995. The current period of concessions for local TV expires on 31 December 1995. The new concession are based on principles established by the Parliament this spring, and mean significant changes in the sector. One of the most important changes is an extension of concession areas where this is possible.
There are now 30 areas of concessions. Inside each area, only one concession will be granted for commercial local TV for ether transmission. In addition, it will be possible to grant concessions for educational TV from institutions of education. Concessions for local cable TV will only be granted under special circumstances. New concessions will not be granted during the period of concession. As before, the length of the concession period is seven years. Rules preventing newspapers, media companies, single persons, nation-wide organisations and business people from holding concessions have now been removed, while the ban on cable companies and public administration from holding concessions is maintained. Under special circumstances, however, municipalities may be granted concession to run information channels in local cable networks. The same concession holder may hold concession in several areas, as long as the ownership does not consist of more than one third of the total market for local TV, measured in the potential number of viewers in the area of concession.
Applications have been received from several new constellations, while relatively few of the current concession holders have renewed their applications. A total of 76 applications for the running of commercial general TV has been received. There are applicants in all the concession areas. An interesting aspect is that newspapers have submitted quite a few applications, either alone, or in constellations with others.
During the treatment of the concessions, an evaluation of the economical status and the professional qualifications for running local TV will be made. A special commission will also assist the public media administration to evaluate applicants. The concession council will probably present their recommendations before Christmas. The public media administration hopes to announce the names of the successful applicants early in the new year.
White Paper on local television
In a White Paper on local broadcasting which was considered in the spring, the Ministry of Culture maintained that the establishment of a new channel was the only model which can provide viable local TV in Norway.
The Ministry also made the assumption that only the Parliament may open for a new, nation-wide TV channel using terrestrial-based sending. During the consideration of the White Paper, the Parliament asked the
Ministry of Culture to take an initiative for an extended co-operation between TV 2 and local TV. The Ministry called a preliminary meeting between the participants in June 1995, but has not taken part in the negotiations since then.
TV 2 and the local TV companies presented a proposal to the Ministry in September. A White Paper containing the Ministry's evaluation of the agreement was presented in a Cabinet meeting on 17 November 1995. In short, the agreement says that an existing satellite channel called
TV + (called the channel below) is transferred from Schibsted to TV 2. According to the agreement, local TV stations are allowed to transmit the channel on their earth based transmitters and are collective responsible for giving the channel a degree of coverage of at least 70% in the country as a whole.
The local TV companies each get a local window of up to two hours in the transmission time of the channel, and may also send as much as they like outside the channel's broadcasting time. In addition, the agreement requires that the Parliament postpones the establishment of the new NRK additional channel - NRK 2 - until 1 January 1998. In the White Paper, the Ministry of Culture recommends that the Parliament rejects the agreement. The main points in favour of this are:
- that the agreement is not in accordance with the current rules for ownership in broadcasting companies, -
that it would be unreasonable to postpone NRK 2 in order to protect a new, commercial channel and local companies against an extension of public broadcasting, -
that the responsibility for the degree of coverage of at least 70% is put on the shoulders of local TV channels, - that TV 2 will get too large a percentage of TV advertising revenue in Norway, and - that the dominating position of TV 2 will also weaken the pluralism of the Norwegian TV market.
In addition to the proposed agreement, the Ministry briefly mentions the four alternative models for organising programme delivery to the local TV sector. Even if the Ministry does not recommend the proposed agreement, it is still of the opinion that the most convenient solution is to base local TV on the establishment of a new channel.
If the Parliament decides to establish a new channel with monopoly rights on co-operation with local TV, the Ministry is of the opinion that the best solution would be to appoint the channel based on an announcement. This makes it possible for different companies to compete. The Ministry also maintains that conditions must be attached to the channels concerning principles of public service broadcasting.
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Wait for digital TV
Wait for a new TV channel, says General Director Mr. Lars Jeding, who has investigated conditions for a digital, terrestrial-based TV on commission from the Government, in a preliminary report submitted in mid-November.
In the report, it is sup
posed that Government still should play an active role in future radio and TV activities. Terrestrial-based transmissions offer a wider range of options than other forms of transmissions in order to protect central principles, according to the report. Based on this, Mr. Lars Jeding considers it unfortunate to make any decisions concerning a fourth analogue terrestrial transmission network until it is possible to get a better overview of implications of digital TV.
TV 3 is British, not Swedish
The Radio and TV
Commission has concluded that the Swedish satellite legislation cannot be used on broadcasts from TV 3. The law is made for those who create and are responsible for programming based in Sweden. The Commission found that a company with this purpose is TV 3 Broadcasting Group, which is based in England. The decision means that Great Britain is responsible for the transmission from TV 3 to follow the rules stated in the TV directive from the EU concerning such matters as the amount of advertising and commercial interrupts.
Femman breaks the TV directive, says the Commission
In a previous decision, the Radio and TV Commission has established that the program channel called Femman is based in Luxembourg and that Swedish laws cannot be applied. In a report to the Government, the Commission points out that the programmes in several respects do not follow the TV directive.
Among other things, there are too many commercial interrupts in movies and too frequent commercial breaks in other programmes. 90% of the commercial interrupts are placed in ongoing programmes, which, according to the Commission, breaks the main rule that advertising should be shown between programmes. Not surprisingly, Femman's opinion varies from that of the Commission on several issues.
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