Media policy 1997-2000
The Government and all the political parties in the Parliament (with the exception of Enhedslisten) have, after a long round of negotiations, entered an agreement on 10 May 1996 about media policy, giving the framework for Danish radio and TV for the next
four years. The aim of the agreement is to secure Danish electronic media and film as free and broad conditions as possible, and to make the media able to encounter the increasing international competition and challenges which the technological development demands.
Here are some of the central elements of the agreement:
Significant extra resources are allocated to Danish film production in Danmarks Radio (DR) and TV 2, a total of 295 million DKK in the agreement period.
DR and TV 2 are given an increasing degree of economic freedom. The current system of budget frames are abandoned. In the future, TV 2 will be given full disposal rights of advertising revenue - in addition to its part of licence fees -
and DR will be given full rights to its licence fees.
DR and TV 2 will be given the opportunity to establish daughter companies or enter co-operation with other companies. For example, the purpose may be to establish pay TV, in addition to the right to do telecommunication business.
The public service responsibilities are extended. Among other things, there is a demand for increased activity in Danish film production and increased use of independent producers. A report shall be presented on the fulfilment of the public service demands.
Negotiations will shortly be started concerning whether there is a sufficient base to establish TV 2 as a public company with public service responsibilities, so that a potential change of organisation may come into effect by 1 January 1998.
Local radio and TV are given the right to network, but there are a number of requirements that must be met. For local TV, these include a clause that at least one hour of locally produced news and current affairs programmes are transmitted in the evening, and air-time must be made available to non-commercial stations at times to be specified.
The transmitting power of local radios is increased from 30W to 160W, and the opportunity for greater areas of coverage is given. To support non-commercial local radio and TV, a funding of 50 million DKK yearly is established, based on revenue from commercial local TV and licence fees.
Two four-year funding programmes of 5 million DKK yearly is established for trials with local radio and TV and with media schools. The licence will only rise with 3.3 percent yearly, corresponding to the annual increase in the retail price index.
Changes to the agreement inside the period requires acceptance from all parties concerned.
In the autumn, the necessary proposals for changing the radio and television legislation by 1 January 1997 will be made.
The new regulations in the local radio and TV field will only come fully into effect when the current transmission concessions run out, unless the channels enter a voluntary agreement about changing to the new rules earlier. The parts of the agreement that
do no require changes to the law or corresponding regulations - like the increase of the transmission power of local radio - will be carried out as soon as possible.
Danmarks Radio`s satellite channel, DR2
announced in Nordic Media News, the Government entered an agreement on 20 January about the strengthening of Danish public service TV. As a part of the agreement, Danmarks Radio (DR) was given permission to start trials with a satellite channel which uses
the new digital technology. As a separate point in the agreement, it was decided that in the Parliament, there will later be a proposal which grants DR the rights to transmit new programmes via satellite.
This legislative proposal was accepted by the Parliament on 31 May 1996. The background for the proposal was the doubt which has been raised about whether DR were allowed under the current legislation to transmit public service programmes which may only be received by viewers with satellite dishes, or who are connected to a cable company. It is assumed that about 65% of Danish households will be able to receive the satellite channel.
There are dual purposes in allowing the trial: Firstly, the satellite channel will supplement the current DR transmittals,
and secondly, it will give DR the opportunity to learn about the digital technology before the launching of earth based channels. The trial - which is supposed to start on 30 August this year - can thus be seen as a part of DR` s participation in the technological development.
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Principal decision on digitalisation - radio and TV concessions announced
The Ministry of Traffic announced by the end of May concessions for country-wide radio and TV based on analogue technology. The deadline for applications was set to the end of June.
The Government decided in May to announce the availability of radio and TV concessions. At the same time, the Government made a decision on digitalisation of radio.
The purpose is to demand that those which are granted analogue concessions commit themselves to digitalisation. The concession conditions have been examined separately by a ministerial working group and by the Parliamentary groups.
One condition for the country-wide radio concession is that the concession holder commits to investing in the public company which is planned for distribution of digital radio a sum which corresponds to the establishment of a programme channel.
Another condition is that the programme offering is sufficiently broad and that the transmission network should cover 85% of the population by the year 2000. Regional advertising is not allowed. The concession period is 10 years.
The concession holder for television must commit to, on its own cost, to use two programme channels inside the digital distribution network if Finland establishes an terrestrial-based digital television network. The transmission network will be established so that the reception area after three years covers 70% of the population. A public service fee which, on a yearly basis
, does not extend 33% of the turnover for advertising sales, must also be paid.
Regulations are also given concerning the percentage of programmes in the Finnish language and the percentage of independent producers. The television concession is granted for five years.
The five applications for concessions which have already been sent to the Ministry of Traffic are taken into consideration when decisions are made.
The Minister will particularly consider whether the suggested programming contains sufficient local focus and is of high quality, and also that a broad offering inside the radio and TV sector is guaranteed and that the concentration of ownership in the com
munication media does not exceed acceptable limits.
The Ministry of Traffic has asked Rundradion to take necessary measures with the purpose of establishing a daughter company to handle digital radio activities. Rundradion is supposed to supply a plan for establishing a company for the distribution channel. The concession for digital radio activities is announced available by the end of this year, and concessions for television activities at the beginning of next year.
Suggestion of changed conditions for film financing
The working group appointed by the Ministry of Education concerning financing of film has submitted its proposals this spring. The working group suggests several different ways of improving conditions for the production of Finnish films.
The working group suggests that
1) the production support for film is doubled before the year 2000
2) the conditions for the production companies are strengthened with a development programme which is carried out in co-operation with Finlands Film Foundation and the Ministry of Trade and Industry
3) market financing is increased by development of guarantees
4) the fee which is based on distribution becomes a new source of financing for film production
5) the financing foundation for local film is extended through increased sponsoring
6) the value added tax for cinema tickets is reduced to 6% and that
7) the country-wide TV channels are required to get 30% of the programmes from independent producers.
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Report on revision of radio legislation
At the end of April, the Minister of Culture and Education, Mr. Bjöarn Bjarnarson, presented a report from a working group concerning a revision of radio legislation
to the Government. At the suggestion from the Minister, the political parties will start negotiations about a revision of radio legislation based on the report. The main purpose of the report is to point out solutions which will strengthen the possibilitie
s for the electronic media to maintain production of Icelandic programmes, and it is based on the condition that all electronic media play important roles as far as Icelandic culture is concerned.
The report concludes that this aim is to be approached in two ways. The first is to strengthen the cultural role of privately operated electronic media and increase their opportunities to handle the production of Icelandic programmes. By increasing the ind
ependence and motivation and by keeping people active, the atmosphere is improved for the creation of Icelandic programmes in electronic media. Secondly, the suggestions in the report cover a strengthening of the public service role of Iceland`s Radio (RUV) and the obligations that follow the unique position and the cultural role of the institution. With new priorities, a clearer division of labour, clearer goals and restructuring, RUV will, to a greater extent, be able to maintain its role and be at the forefront of Icelandic electronic media concerning the creation of local programmes. RUV` s activities have been and are still an important part of the education and culture of the nation. Thus it is vital that the activities and the role of RUV ar
e strengthened. At the same time, it is necessary that the special role and privileges of the institution do not hinder the opportunities of other electronic media to add their contribution to the national culture and the local programming, the report concludes.
The report also makes a number of suggestions in this direction. For example, it is suggested that it becomes increasingly easy for privately operated electronic media to create programmes in that RUV is gradually removed from the advertising market. It is also suggested that RUV stop using sponsors for programmes and the transmission of TV programmes selling merchandise. Furthermore, it is suggested that a cultural award for electronic media is established, to present appreciation and support to t
hose who are believed increase the production of local programmes. There are no suggestions for changes in the rules of the radio legislation concerning the obligation to translate programmes, but stations transmitting programmes for children are required
to ensure that at least half of such programmes are in Icelandic or are supplied with Icelandic voices. The working group believes it is necessary to differentiate between the official service role of RUV and the factors that are concerned with competing a
ctivities. It is believed to be important that the main rule of day to day operation in RUV is that the activity is limited to the responsibility that cannot be placed elsewhere. It is suggested that RUV start negotiations with the Post and Telecommunication Board about a take-over of the distribution of radio and TV material and that the collection of licence fees is ended, but that the revenue of the institution is created by special taxes or direct contributions from the authorities. The radio board is terminated and in its place an administrative direction of five members is established. Together with the director of the radio company, this direction will be responsible to the Minister of Culture and Education for the running of RUV.
The intention of the
report from the working group was that it should be the foundation for a debate on radio and TV legislation and about broadcasting issues in general. In that respect, it is safe to say that the report has met its intention. A heated debate on the contents
of the report has taken place in the press and in the Parliament. Everyone has an opinion on the value of the suggestions, particularly on those that have to do with RUV itself. Some believe that the suggestions go too far, while others feel they do not go far enough. Most seem to believe it is necessary to revise the radio legislation from 1985 and preparations for a governmental suggestion with changes will probably be made this summer.
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Council for public service broadcasting appointed
According to the conditions given by the Parliament, the Ministry of Culture in March this year appointed a council for public service broadcasting.
The council will evaluate whether the programming activities of NRK, TV 2 and P4 are in accordance with the
public service broadcasting, as they are stated in the concession conditions for TV 2 and P4 and the guiding principles that Parliament have formulated for NRK.
The council will, in co-operation with the public service companies, develop criteria for evaluation of public service broadcasting. The criteria will be made final by the Ministry. The council will not consider individual programmes, but will evaluate to
which extent the total programming profile is in accordance with the public service principles.
As an element in this evaluation, individual programmes may be used to shed light on more general tendencies. The council is to present a written report each year.
The council will consist of four members, with representatives from the programming boards of TV 2 and P4 and the broadcasting council. In addition, members will be appointed from the culture sector and re environments in Norway. Professor of media
science, Mr. Jostein Gripsrud, has been appointed leader of the council in the first period, until 31 December 1999. Statens medieforvaltning will act as a secretariat for the council.
Value evaluation and share capital for NRK AS
Norsk Rikskringkasting, NRK, (the Norwegian public service company) was restructured from a foundation to a limited company on 30 April 1996, when a statutory general assembly was held for the new company.
During the general assembly, all the possessions, rights and liabilities of the foundation were transferred to the NRK limited company, and the Government received all the shares in the company.
The assembly also agreed that Mr. Einar Førde continued as the broadcasting director, and also that he is to become the managing director of NRK AS until the end of September 1997, when his term of years expires.
From this time, the board of NRK AS will hire the broadcasting director. The broadcasting director will be hired for a period of six years, with the option of one periods extension.
The Ministry of Culture, which acts as the
general assembly for NRK AS, and the employees of NRK appointed a new board for the company. The board was extended with two members, and continuity was important: Six of the members were members of the board prior to the reorganisation into a limited com
The Parliament set the share capital of NRK AS to one billion NOK on 18 April.
Profit in TV 2
TV 2 was quite profitable in 1995. The result prior to taxes was 113.3 million NOK, compared to 35.6 million NOK in 1994.
The operating profit of the TV channel was 114.2 million NOK, compared to 43 million NOK in 1994. The turnover was 784.4 million NOK.
The management of TV 2 expects more intense competition for viewers and advertising revenue in 1996 and towards the turn of the century.
A major element of uncertainty is the number of new viewers the new NRK 2 will be able to capture when it gets on the air in the autumn. TV 2 feels it is well prepared for the competition. Nevertheless, a decrease both in the number of viewers and in advertising is to be expected, TV 2 writes in the annual report.
TF/Norsk Telegrambyrå (NTB)
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Cultural network in Sweden
Bi Puranen, who has been given the mission of making proposal for a collected strategy for usage of information technology at the cultural institutions in Sweden, handed in a partial report on 18 June. It contains suggestions for an over all IT strategy and a mapping of how cultural institutions use IT and a planned project, among several things.
The final report is to be submitted no later than 15 November 1996
Great variety in views on digital terrestrial-based TV
In February, the deliberation "From mass media to multimedia - digitalisation of Swedish television" was submitted. The deadline for submitting reactions expired on 21 June.
More than 70 comments have been submitted from authorities, cultural institutions, TV companies and housing companies.
The Ministry of Culture is currently extracting the essence of the comments, and this work will
be completed by the end of the summer. At this stage it is clear that several of the commenting parties believe it is necessary to obtain more information. For example, this is necessary in questions concerning financing and the comparison between digital satellite and cable transmissions.
Not unexpectedly, several cable TV companies are against a digitalisation of the terrestrial-based transmission network.
Most cultural institution, programming companies and housing companies are more or less positive towards a digital terrestrial-based transmission network.
Considerations about a new TV-4 agreement to start in September
The present transmission concession for TV4 - which is valid until February 1999 - was cancelled in February after talks with TV4.
The Minister of Culture, Ms. Marita Ulvskog and the TV4 management met on 23 May and decided that considerations prior to a decision about a new transmission concessions for TV4 should start in mid-September.
Market legislation tested at the EU court of justice
The Swedish consumer ombudsman has wanted to get an EU evaluation on whether the regulations of the market legislation may also include advertising transmitted via satellite TV. For example, the ban on unsuitable advertising and TV advertising targeted on
children younger than 12 years. TV4, who use terrestrial-based transmissions, must follow these rules, but the same is not the case for the satellite channels, who have their administrations outside Swedish borders.
TV4 has been warned by Swedish authorities that they have violated the ban on advertising targeted on children. One of the issues has been to what extent it is possible to distinguish between advertising targeted on 12-year olds and 13- to 14-year olds.
During the treatment at the EU court of justice, doubts have been raised as to whether it is at all possible for Sweden to maintain the ban on TV advertising targeted on special groups.
The question is whether Swedish laws contradict EU laws. The ban on alcohol advertising may also be subject to consideration.
The treatment of the case may take some time. Some people believe it may be decided this autumn, while the more pessimistic suggest a treatment time of half a year, maybe even a full year.
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