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First edition 1996

(Nordic Media from 1999)

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Denmark   |   Greenland   |   Finland   |   Iceland   |   Norway   |   Sweden

  Welcome to Nordic Media News

The editions of Nordic Media News, Nordic Media from 1999 onwards, are available on the net. The newsletter is a summary of the contents of Medier i Norden: Resymé (Scandinavian languages news bulletin).

Nordic Media News may be quoted, provided the source is clearly stated.

  Editor                                                      Publisher
Terje Flisen (TF)                                        Secretary General Søren Christensen
Postboks 1726 Vika                                  Nordic Council of Ministers,
0121 Oslo, Norge                                      Store Strandstræde 18
Tel. + 47 22 20 80 61                                 DK-1255 København K., Denmark

Nordic Media News ISSN 1396-934X electronic edition.



Denmark Radio`s satellite channel 

Denmark Radio has been allowed to start the testing of a satellite channel (DR2) which uses new digital technology and which will mean a supplement to the current programmes sent by ground based transmitters. The purpose of the extra channel, which will be a fully developed programme channel by 1998, is to offer a better selection of Danish programmes throughout the evening, a choice between education and entertainment, in addition to more narrow programmes. This will be made possible if a programme is sent during prime time in the evening on one channel and at a different time of day on the other.

All the construction and operational costs of the new channels are supposed to be covered by Denmark Radio within the budget framework of the licence agreement dated 16 September 1993, and the new satellite channel programming is covered by the "must carry"-rule.

Starting on 30 August 1996, DR TV will transmit on two channels: one is the re-issued DR 1, which will become more appealing and entertain within the public service obligations, the other is the brand new DR 2, which will be the unpredictable little sister with announcers who present the programmes and, throughout the evening from 8 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., keep the watchers updated on news. DR 2 is an additional offering to the viewers - transmitted by satellite, in the first phase to about 60 percent of the viewers.

The TV director Mr. Bjørn Erichsen presented the two new channels at a press conference in week 10. The Denmark Radio employees will create them using the same licence income they enjoy today.


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Legislation for media responsibility in Greenland 

At the spring meeting of the Greenland national assembly, a proposal has been made for media responsibility in Greenland. 135 years after the first newspaper was issued, Greenland will probably have its first media responsibility law ever. As opposed to Denmark, there has never been press legislation for Greenland. This means that the proposed legislation will be an innovation in Greenland`s legislation.

The proposal is almost identical to the similar Danish legislation. However, provisions have been made for the newest technological development, since writers and editors of a publicly accessible network (Internet publications) may be made responsible for what is published.

This responsibility covers news produced in Greenland as well as dynamic references to news produced abroad. Dynamic references is taken to mean hypertext links which will make text and pictures etc. from other databases from all over the world an integrat ed part of data available at a data network address.

Nicholas Symes/TF

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Culture and the information society - suggestion for a programme of measures 

In January, a group of experts appointed by the Ministry of Education presented a report which created strategic reasons for a cultural information society. It also represents a starting points for the Ministry`s programme of measures for the years 1997 to 2000.

The expert group suggests that the Ministry of Education should initiate the creation of a network strategy for Finnish culture based on the point of view of the culture sector. The strategy should cover the institutions of culture in addition to the cultural functions of the government and municipalities. In addition, different organisations for culture and artists, arrangers of various events and companies working within different cultural sectors should be able to connect to the net.

The expert group also suggests that new technology should be used for the education of people who are active in the sectors of art and culture. In the report, special emphasis is put on libraries, museums, the audio-visual area and childrens culture.

The suggestion also covers measures connected to the law about free copies, radio and TV programmes, film censorship and copyright.


Strategy proposal for digitalisation 

The government should, as soon as possible, make decisions regarding the principles involved in digitalisation of radio and TV networks. This is the conclusion of Jouni Mykkänen, who presented a report to the Ministry of Traffic in January containing a strategy proposal for broadcasting. Mykkänen maintains that both a new commercial radio and a new nation-wide commercial TV channel should be granted concessions. Mykkänen suggested that Rundradion (public service) and the holders of the commercial concession should co-operate in building the digital nets. Governmental funding should not be used for the digitalisation. The proposal also suggests that a daughter company to Rundradion is established for the network activity.

Mykkänen suggests that the digitalisation project is started with an investigation aimed to map who is interested in participating in the national project. Simultaneously, it should be possible to apply for concession for the other nation-wide commercial channel. The four applications which the Ministry of Traffic has already received will be taken into consideration when the Minister makes a decision on the concession. According to Mykkänen, participation in the digitalisation should be a requirement for obtaining the concession.

Mykkänen also suggested that local radios were allowed to create chains. Rundradion and the commercial concession holders are suggested to start the digitalisation of radio networks.

According to the suggestion, it will be possible to grant regional concessions for radio and television in a digital system. Since digital radio can reach more areas of transmission than the current local radio activity, one should attempt to create a new frequency area for local radio needs in order to secure the existence of local radio in Finland.

When concession applications are considered, the most important criterion should be the programming offer. The concession applications should present programming plans for the station. If a new nation-wide concession is granted, the amount of so-called independent productions, outside Rundradion and MTV Ab, should be defined to be at least 30 %. In order to be granted a concession, one ought to pay for the use of transmission networks, but also contribute a so-called public service fee. The idea of a public service fee, which is in fact a licence to the Government, turned up during the work with the strategy proposal. According to Mykkänen, this requires a new study.

A decision about renewal of MTVs concession should be made before 1998. The current concession runs until 1999.

According to the study, the amount of television advertising will double during the next few years and reach a level of two billion FIM, even if the total amount of media advertising does not increase much. The advertising share within electronic communication will probably increase during the next 15 years and reach the same level as newspaper advertising. With this in mind, Mykkänen suggests that the press should be given the opportunity to participate as owners in radio and television companies.

The national strategy of the study is based on the idea that the public service programming of Rundradion and the programming of the commercial concession holders radio and TV companies supplement each other. It is possible to obtain an equilibrium if one provides Rundradion the opportunity to fulfil their public service obligations at the same time as new commercial concessions are granted.

The building of monopolies within the radio and TV field will not be allowed. The share of foreign ownership should not be too big. Sweden and Finland should negotiate about the future of TV 4 in Finland (programmes from Swedish television) and about the possibility of transmitting Finnish television via satellite to Sweden. This should make it possible for Finns living in Sweden to follow Finnish broadcasting all over Sweden.

In the discussions following the publication of the study, it became clear that the timetable presented in the study is too optimistic. More information concerning digitalisation and the cost of it is required before any decisions can be made. A working group appointed by the Ministry of Traffic is currently working with these questions and will be finished by the end of May. The suggestion about local radio chains was also greeted with doubt by some.


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Suggestion to ban child pornography 

The Minister of Justice, Mr. Thorsteinn Palsson has proposed legislation for the Parliament containing a change in the criminal code concerning, among other things, the possession of material with child pornography. According to the proposed legislation, it will become illegal to possess photographs, films or similar effects containing severe child pornography. There is no condition in the proposal that the material is intended for public distribution.

In the additional remarks to the proposal, the following is pointed out: The purpose of making it illegal to possess material containing severe child pornography is to increase the protection of children against sexual abuse. A ban on possessing material containing severe child pornography is thought to reduce and prevent the abuse of children in connection with production of such material.


By the power of information 

At the beginning of March, the publication "I kraft av opplysninger" (By the power of information) was made available. It contains the programme of the Ministry of Education concerning education, culture and information technology for the years 1996 to 1999. In the publication, the general programme concerning how to obtain a higher use of information technology for the benefit of education and culture is presented. The publication covers the various areas controlled by the Ministry of Education, including media.

On the subject of the future in this area, the publication states: "Apparently, electronic media, telephone technology and information technology will be integrated into a common medium. This will off er an opportunity for interactivity and provide the public with an opportunity to participate actively and influence the service offered and what information is distributed. The media of the future will thus not only secure easy access to information, but will also provide the opportunity for varying presentation of the material. Through interactive media, the Government may adapt the use of media for its own purposes, and will not be restricted by the fixed scheduling of media programmes."

The aim of the Ministry of Education concerning private mass media is to secure sound conditions that make it possible to participate in the competition in the international world of media.

Concerning the future of RUV (public service), an important aim is that RUV shall use information technology in order to make it easier for the public to have access to data, programming material and information connected with news. Furthermore, RUV should use information technology in the creation of programmes. At RUV, there are plans to implement an archiving system which, via the Internet, will give access to the material of the institution.

From the publication, it is possible to learn that RUV has entered into a co-operation with a computer company concerning the broadcasting of news updates to subscribers via the Internet.

RUV also transmits introductory material concerning the programming activity to other media on a digital format, but the majority of the material is still printed. RUV uses, increasingly, Internet to obtain new s and employees fetch a great deal of information through use of databases.


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Revision of film and video legislation 

In connection with a major revision in the legislation covering film and videos (15 May 1987 no. 21), the Ministry of Culture suggests to create a common norm for violence and pornography through changes in the film and video legislation and in the criminal code.

As far as violence is concerned, the Ministry suggests that 382 on rendering of violence is changed to include all picture media. If the change is implemented, it will mean that the same limits that are applied for TV, film and video will be used for evaluation of violence in electronic bulletin board material and computer games.

For pornography, the film and video legislation contains a somewhat more severe norm than is found in the criminal code. 211 covers videos for sale and rental, and for TV. In a comment to the proposal, the Ministry discusses whether it is reasonable to maintain a more severe limit for cinema showing, or whether a certain liberalisation should take place in order for the same norm to be used for all picture media. The Ministry poses this question to the institutions that are to comment on the proposal, without stating a final opinion on the is sue.


Digitalisation of broadcasting 

In co-operation with (commercial) P4 and Norwegian Telecom, NRK (public service) has tried out digital radio broadcasting (DAB) since early 1995. The Ministry of Culture has recently issued a memorandum to form the base of a White Paper on the introduction of DAB in Norway. The Ministry hopes that the hearing will create more clarity about which principles should be at the bottom of concession granting, about distribution and prioritising of frequency capacity for different purposes, which additional services should be offered in addition to digital radio on this network and how DAB may be used by local radio.

In addition, it is important to clarify which timeframe one should apply for the change from analogue FM based radio to digital radio, and for how long the two should be transmitting in parallel before the FM based system is allowed to be terminated.

In the memorandum, it is suggested that regular DAB transmissions should start in 1998, on the condition that at least 70% of the population may receive the transmission and that DAB receivers are available at reasonable prices in the market. As far as digitalisation of pictures is concerned (DVB), the introduction of this lies further into the future in Norway like in other countries. As with DAB, NRK and Norwegian Telecom participate in the European DVB project, where the standardisation work for digital television in Europe takes place.

In their strategy document for the years 1996 to 2000, NRK have stated the aim that NRK should be in the lead as far as introduction of digital technology in production and transmission techniques, as well as new services, are concerned. A major challenge is to secure that the frequency bandwidths are not used in such a way that development of digital broadcasting is made more difficult in the future.

Internet presents itself as a possible channel for broadcasting of pictures. Up until now, the transmission capacity that most people have access to prohibits the transmission of video on Internet.

The LAVA re project has, as a time limited trial project, made regional NRK news from Northern Norway available on Internet. LAVA, an acronym standing for delivery of video through ATM, is a co-operation project between a number of Norwegian re institutes, and NRK is also a participant. Viewers are allowed to decide when they want to watch the news, in this case on their PC monitors.

In a longer perspective, this may be commercially interesting. NRK also participate in the Videotorg project run by Norwegian Telecom re department in order to gain experience as a supplier of programmes on the "on demand" basis.


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New conditions for public service companies 

The Government has issued a proposal for public service radio and TV in the period of 1997 to 2001. The main points are as follows:

- The public service aspect is strengthened and becomes more visible. The cultural responsibility of the broadcasting companies is emphasised. The co-operation with other cultural institutions is supposed to increase, as is the participation of non-employees in the production of programmes. The multi-cultured society should be reflected. Programming for children and youth shall be given more attention.

- The responsibility for quality follow-up shall increase. Lappish, Finnish and Tornedal Finnish should be given a special status in the programming for language and ethnic minorities.

- News broadcasts and current issue programmes should state different points of view, not only that of Stockholm. Measures to ensure this include the relocation from Stockholm of editorial offices or qualified functions of decision within current issue programmes.

- The share of general productions created outside of Stockholm should progressively be increased to a level of 55% within Swedish Television and Swedish Radio. The increase should firstly take place through the use of independent producers and through the participation of non-employees.

- If a broadcasting company wants to start new programme channels, the approval of the Government must be secured.

- The broadcasts are to be financed through TV fees. They shall be earmarked for the financing of public service companies. No advertising is allowed. Sponsorship may only take place in connection with sports transmissions on Swedish Television.

- More severe demands for programming companies to follow up the public service aspect.

- The period of concession is to last for five years, from 1997 to 2001 for Swedish Radio and Swedish Television. For the Educational radio, the concession is valid for 1997 and 1998, awaiting a study of the future role of Educational radio.


New radio and television law 

The Government recently presented a White Paper on a new radio and television law to the Parliament. The new law means that seven laws in this area are joined to a single one. The rules of the radio and television area are to become simpler and more uniform, and the law is suggested to become active on 1 December 1996. Certain changes are proposed:

- A ban on transmission of realistic violence and pornographic pictures on TV at such times and in such a way that there is considerable risk for children watching the programmes and when there are not other reasons to justify transmission - e.g. as part of new programmes.

- A special penalty fee is imposed on those who in certain cases violate the rules concerning advertising and other issues. Furthermore, it is suggested that a market disturbance penalty fee may be imposed for breaking certain rules, for example rules bann ing advertising aimed at children. The duty to censor transmissions becomes somewhat more limited.


Political majority for digital TV 

A political decision has been made concerning digital TV, public service and future Swedish TV production. Three major political parties have agreed upon a fast introduction of digital TV transmissions on the ground based transmission network. The reasons are given as the following:

- the viewers are given a wider selection, - new Swedish channels may be introduced, - the entire country may receive the transmissions, - Swedish and Nordic programmes are given better conditions, - an opportunity for greater de-centralisation through more local and regional TV channels, - basic demands in the area of cultural policies may be posed to counteract violence, TV advertising aimed at children and strengthen the availability for the disabled.

The political parties emphasise the importance of fast decisions, and also that it is not smart to start new transmissions based on analogue technology. The frequencies that belong to the so-called M4 and M5 networks should rather be used for digital transmissions. The three parties also share views on measures to strengthen and clarifying the public service aspects of broadcasting.

The cultural responsibility of the broadcasting companies is made deeper. The co-operation with other cultural institutions is supposed to increase, and the broadcasting companies are to increase the use of freelancers and independent productions, according to the three parties.

The third area covered is concerned with measures to encertain future Swedish TV production with culture and quality. The parties agree that it is correct to increase the proportion of programmes produced in Sweden and that the variety in the area is stimulated. According to the three parties, independent TV film makers and producers must have access to more sources of financing. The educational possibilities in the TV field must also be improved.


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