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Third edition 1996

(Nordic Media from 1999)

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  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.



New Danish law proposal about film 

The Minister of Culture, Ms. Jytte Hilden, presented a new law proposal concerning films in October. In the proposal, the Danish film institute, the Public film central and the Danish film museum are supposed to be merged into a single institution, to be named the Danish Film Institute. All the responsibilities of the respective institutions in the fields of full length movies, short films, documentaries, the preservation of film and film material are joined under the same hat. The new Film Institute is to be lead by a board with up to seven members, of whom the Minister of Culture is to name three. In addition, threeboards are to be established, and each will appoint one board member. The last member is to be selected by the employees of the Film Institute. The Board will appoint the leadership, to be headed by a managing director, who is to be responsible for the regular activity.

The law proposal must be seen in the light of the three institutions new move into the Copenhagen house of Film. The house of Film contains cinemas and other facilities for an active and extrovert interface with the public. The moving in of the institutions makes it possible for them to connect to this interface, and this may create the chance for making Danish film and film policy more visible in a completely different way. But this requires co-operation and co-ordination in many new areas. In the law proposal, it is thus suggested that the three organisations are merged into one, with a common leadership to be lead by a managing director.

This will mean a more dynamic and efficient organisation which can "draw" Danish film and film policy outwards. In order to keep up the effort of maintaining the artistical and professional characteristics, three boards are to be formed: One for full length movies, one for short and documentary films, and one museum board. Each board is to offer advice to the new Film institute inside its own area.

The law proposal is the result of a process which started back in 1995, when the Minister of Culture asked the consultancy firm Performance A/S to look into the need for organisational changes triggered by the move to the house of Film. The conclusion of the consultancy firm was that the institutions should be merged and given a common leadership.

The report from the consultancy firm was followed by a dialogue with the leadership of the institutions and the film environments, which form the first "raw draft" for a new film law. The draft has throughout the summer been subject to a hearing in a wide circle, and based on the opinions voiced, it has been refined into the current law proposal.

The proposal is expected to be accepted early in the new year, and when it has been, the actual building of the new institution may start. If everything proceeds well, the Danish Film Institute in its new form may be completely operational in the first half of 1997.


Film censorship in Denmark terminated 

Ban is replaced by counselling, and the film censorship is replaced by a media council for children and youth. This is suggested in a law proposal from the Danish Ministry of Culture, which has been subject to its first consideration by the Parliament.

In the film law proposal, which was recently presented by the Minister of Culture, it is proposed that the national censorship body is to be terminated and the well-known age limits at 12 and 16 years abandoned. This takes place through the cancellation of the law on film censorship, which forbids showing of films to children below 12 and 16 years respectively, films which have not been approved for these age groups by the national censorship. Similarly, a law which requires labelling of video films according to the approval of the censorship rulings and forbids distribution to children below 12 or 16 years of such cassettes, will be cancelled.

The ban rules are to be replaced by an extended counselling to parents. It will still be mandatory to inform consumers about a film`s suitability for children and youth. There will also be a governmental body with professional insight into children that is to evaluate the suitability of films and ensure proper information. Thus, the media council for children and youth is established, and it replaces the national censorship body. The media council will evaluate films and, based on this, ensure sufficient information to parents and to those who are involved in regulation of the media consumption among the young, like school teachers.

The suggestion has been raised on the recommendation of a wide majority of the parties in the Parliament and after an intense media debate. The main theme of the discussion has been whether the suggested counselling provides sufficient protection for children who do not receive the necessary support from their parents. In order to help such children, the law proposal contains an opening for the Minister of Culture, together with the media council for children and youth, to establish so-called parental guidance rules known from abroad. Such rules specify that in order for children to see a film which has been classified as unsuitable for their age group, they need to be accompanied by an adult.


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Animated discussion on the public service fee 

The Governments decision to grant concession to the fourth TV channel has provoked a discussion about the public service fee. Ruutunelonen, which was granted the concession, pays a lower public service fee to Rundradion/YLE in the beginning than the MTV channel, another commercial channel.

MTV has been dissatisfied with the decision, and has asked the competition council to voice an opinion on the matter. The council suggested that the entire fee should be dropped, since it hinders competition.

The competition council has been criticised by those who claim that public service responsibilities of YLE cannot be ignored for commercial reasons. If other companies no longer have to pay any fees, it will become very difficult to finance the programming at YLE. The pressure to increase license fees will become ber.

The minister of Traffic, Ms. Tuula Linnainmaa, has said that she will establish a committee to look into the public service principles in broadcasting, and how it should be financed.


Digital radio makes progress 

The Ministry of Transport and Communication has received 40 applications from organisations with an interest in digital radio. The Ministry will negotiate with them concerning the distribution of transmission capacity and the rules for multiplexing co-operation. Comments must be sent to the Ministry by the end of January.

The service plans for the digital radio of Rundradion/YLE has been approved by the management council. When the digital radio network is ready, Rundradion will transmit its current radio programmes both as regular and digital transmissions. The company will also transmit programmes only in digital form.

The life experience of young adults and the female public will be the focus for a new programming service. The service will contain topics which relate to job, family, leisure, human relations, culture, society and programmes for children.

In the programming offering of YLE, a new alternative will also contain a new alternative - programmes with no music. However, the main offering will be the continuation of current productions. A basic service as a support for the public education is a co-operation between YLE and various educational bodies. Swedish language services are increased with, among other things, regional specialities.


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TV 2 snatches English football 

The private stations TV 2 and Syn have ensured the exclusive rights to the transmission of English football in Iceland from next season. This means that some of the most popular TV transmissions disappear from the Icelandic public TV, RUV, where English football has been on the programme for almost thirty years, from the very early time of TV in Iceland.

Media A/S, owning and operating TV2 and Syn, will also have exclusive rights to the League Cup and the Charity Shield match at the start of the season. The agreement concerning the League Cup runs for one year, while the exclusive rights to the transmission of the Charity Shield games runs to the turn of the century.

The leadership of Iceland TV considers this to be a disaster for RUV, but the institution simply could not compete with the private stations, that have their revenue almost completely from advertising and licence. The leaders at RUV have thought on this occasion that it has bcome absolutely necessary for a publicly owned TV station to have a second channel. The competition is simply hopeless without a second channel.


Investigation on TV violence 

The childrens ombudsman has published an investigation concerning use of violence on TV which reveals that many banned films are advertised at times when children watch TV. Ads for 96 banned films were shown on Icelandic TV prior to 10 p.m. in the period from 2 to 15 September this autumn, according to the report. During the same period, 14 films banned to children were shown prior to 10 p.m. The study was triggered by a number of people who had pointed out that children often watch violent advertising.

The ombudsman does not consider such advertising as being consistent with childrens rights to be protected from harmful information. The faculty for social studies at Iceland University carried out the study, and the purpose of it was to investigate the contents of violent material on Icelandic TV.

It turned out that there were 33 commercials for banned films prior to 10 p.m. on TV Iceland, 52 on TV 2, five on TV 3 and three on Syn. However, most films prior to 10 p.m. were shown on Syn, which transmitted seven. There were six on TV 2, one on TV 3, but none on TV Iceland during the period 2 to 15 September.

The radio distribution board held an open conference on the subject of violence on TV in the continuation of the study. The Minister of Education held a short speech at the conference and said that there are two ways to counter violence on TV.

One was to forbid certain films, while the other was to inform the users. The technological evolution continues in such a way that it is impossible for the authorities to check the distribution of material.

The Minister said that he thus would prefer the second approach and strengthen information about film and technology, to develop the pupils` understanding of good film and last, but not least, to appeal to the parents and their responsibility. The lecturers seemed to agree that a ban on TV violence was not the way to proceed, since it would then not be possible to select films for an adult audience. Information and purposeful descriptions in the press is a more realistic alternative.

The responsibility rests in the homes, but it may be difficult to monitor all children activity in their own rooms, where there may be a computer, a TV or a video machine. At the conference, a warning was issued against the long term effects from violent films, which shows a distorted picture of reality with noble revenge, glorious violence, fighting without pain etc.

During the conference, however, different points of view on the subject were voiced. Some claimed that TV watching could stimulate real violence and even cause violence in certain cases and also lead to children imitating the violence seen on TV. Others maintained that there was a tendency to blame TV for everything that goes wrong in society. The conclusion of the conference was, broadly speaking, that it would be sensible for the leadership of TV stations to assume that there is a certain connection, and that parents who are worried about media violence should talk to their children about it to reduce the danger of bad influence.


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NRK must state criteria for the amount of sponsoring 

The Ministry of Culture has asked NRK to state in the yearly report of 1996 criteria in order to reduce the amount of sponsoring of programmes.

The net revenue from sponsorship in 1995 was approximately 14 million NOK, which is 0,56 per cent of the total revenue. The Parliament has fixed an upper limit of one per cent, and demands an overview of such income.

In the white paper on broadcasting and daily press in 1995, the Ministry also points out the demand for programmes produced in Norway in TV 2. The Ministry states it is positive that 54 per cent of the programmes last year were produced in Norway.

The Ministry is satisfied that both NRK and TV 2 have taken the initiative to co-operate to avoid competition which will forces costs to rise. This is particularly relevant in the technical field, and for sports.


New concessions for local TV 

The Ministry of Culture has made a final ruling on the complaints for the granting of concessions for land based local TV. This makes it clear who will have the concession for local TV over the next seven years.

The deadline to apply for concessions was 1 October last year. There were 76 applications for 30 areas of concession. The applications have been handled by a separate concession council appointed by the Ministry of Culture. The council have presented a unanimous recommendation to the public media board, who formally grant the concessions. The professional and economic conditions for running of local TV and the applicants plans for a broad programme offering has been the basis for the treatment of applications.

A concession for a land based general purpose TV channel in each concession area has been granted. All the 30 concession holders have one or more local owners. In 19 of the areas, one or more newspapers are partial owners.

The 1/3 rule
According to the local broadcasting regulations, no single company may own more than 1/3 of the total national market for local TV. The largest single actor is Norsk Lokal-TV AS, which has a total market share of 30 per cent. The future of the company is somewhat uncertain, however. Norsk Lokal-TV is owned by Orkla, Aller, Telenor and A-pressen (the association of social democratic newspapers), each holding 25 per cent. A-pressen will also become one of the major actors, with a total market share of 23 per cent. If the ownership in Norsk Lokal-TV is counted, A-pressen has an ownership of 28 per cent of the market.

Co-operation with NRK
With the new system for granting local TV concession, only one concession for ether transmitted local TV for each area is granted. In consequence, a number of previous concession holders, including religious groups and volunteer organisations, no longer have concession for local TV.

During the handling of the white paper St.meld nr. 13 (1995-96) Local TV, the Parliament wanted such organisations and local TV concession holders to be able to co-operate with NRK by using the local NRK2 land transmitters while they were available. The set-up will at first cover NRK land transmitters in Oslo and Bergen. The period of concession is three years. The transmission must not contain advertising and must take place at times when NRK does not use the transmitters themselves. The application deadline for concessions for such transmissions was 21 October. 26 applications have been received.


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New film consultants 

The Swedish Film Institute has appointed four new film consultants who are to work for three years. In addition, a new services as educational consultant is established. Mr. Mats Ahren and Mr. Reidar Jönsson have been appointed as consultants on full length films.

Ms. Charlotta Denward has been appointed consultant for children and youth film, and Ms. Kerstin Allroth has been appointed as consultant for short and documentary film.In the new positions as educational consultant, Ms. Elisabeth Lysander will be appointed.


New concession for TV4 

Negotiations between the Government and TV4 were concluded on 28 October. The new concession will be valid from 1 January 1997 until the end of the year 2001.

The percentage of advertising in transmissions may not increase, and the concession fees are to be unchanged. The detail regulation in the concession conditions is decreased, but the Government increases the demands in certain areas.

TV4 is to widen the cultural responsibility by continually to mirror, investigate and monitor the Swedish cultural scene. TV4 is to co-operate with cultural and music institutions all over Sweden with the purpose of offering transmissions of performances and events. Even film production and quality production for TV is to be supported.

The Government also requires that TV4 must make programmes accessible for handicapped, and that TV4 must send programmes for children in Swedish or some other Nordic language.

Regional transmissions
The question which has received the most attention is the one concerning regional transmissions. The concession conditions state that the regional base is to be continued. The way to organise the activity is to contribute to the mirroring of local new and events in different parts of the country in the programmes.

The handling of news and society coverage must be from different points of view, so that events are not covered from a Stockholm point of view only. Production companies which are situated outside Stockholm are to participate in the production of programmes.

TV4 considers the local companies to be unprofitable and that TV4 thus will find it hard to continue sending local TV programmes in separate windows.


Commission initiative to protect children from harmful contents in new information services 

In October, the EU commission published a green book on the protection of children and human rights concerning the contents of new audio-visual services and other information services. In particular, violence and pornography distributed by new on-line services, TV services and information services such as the Internet are considered harmful.

The Commission emphasises that the question covers the new way of communicating and not so much the contents as such, compared to traditional media. The Commission believes that the material distributed by the new media in itself hardly is more objectionable or harmful, but that the new services make the material more visible and relatively speaking more accessible.

The Commission raises a number of questions concerning legal protection and responsibility of the different actors in the information chain, control systems which enable parents to limit access to harmful material and international co-operation.

The Commission wants reactions to the green book from the membership countries by the end of February. The Swedish Ministry of Culture has distributed the green book to a number of Swedish organisations, and wants their comments by 30 January 1997.


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