New film law passed
The Parliament passed a new film law on 27 February after having re-considered
the law proposal which was described in the last issue of Nordic Media News
The new law means that Film Censorship is replaced by the Media Council for
Children and Youth and that the Danish film institute, the public film central
and the Danish film museum are joined in a common institution called the Danish
The film censorship has been closed down, but the protection of children is
maintained. At the same time, the introduction of parental guidance rules has
been made more flexible and up-to-date. The current limits for film censorship
at 12 and 16 years are lowered to 11 and 15, while the recommended limit means
that a film may be approved for everyone, but is not recommended for children
under the age of 7. Children over 7 can watch all cinema movies if accompanied
by an adult. However, children under 7 may only see films that have been
approved for everyone.
Furthermore, Danish film resources are being consolidated. The new Film
institute is expected to strengthen the co-operation and inner efficiency and
provide a solid external platform from which it is possible to speak up for
Danish film directors file suit against Danmarks Radio
The organisation Danish Film Directors have, together with the American film
director Sidney Pollack, filed suit against Danmarks Radio for violating the
directors` "droit moral". Danmarks Radio, the main Danish public service
instituition, has shown cropped cinemascope films, and adapted them to the TV
screen so that they fill the entire screen. The rationale is that this prevents
a black 'bar' at the top and bottom of the screen.
As much as half of the picture may be cropped using this technique. When the
director deliberately has chosen the cinemascope format in his visual
composition, cropping has a severe effect on the result, the directors argue.
Almost every tenth cinema movie is in cinemascope.
The Danish film directors refer to the copyright law, § 3, section 2,
which states that "a piece of art may not be changed or be made available to
the public in a way which violates the literary or artistic esteem or
distinctive character of the copyright holder". The Danish film directors thus
feel that a verdict banning such cropping would be desirable.
The suit against Danmarks Radio started in Østre Landsret court on 20
January 1997 and is to be regarded as a trial case. A verdict is expected
sometime in early spring.
Other Danish TV stations show cropped films in the same way as Danmarks Radio,
and the film directors will, if the suit against Denmark Radio is successful,
follow up by filing suits against these TV stations also.
Extension of the copyright law
With a change in the copyright law which was introduced in December 1996, the
mandatory license for further distribution of radio and TV programmes in cable
networks etc has been changed to a system based on agreement license. The
change is made with the implementation of the satellite and cable directive of
27 September 1993.
The legislative change means that from 1 January 1998, the system of agreement
license is used in the area of cable distribution. This means that cable
networks which want to distribute radio and TV transmissions must enter an
agreement with an organisation which represents a majority of Danish copyright
holders for a certain kind of works. The implications of such an agreement are
that also the copyright holders which are not represented directly by the
organisation which enters an agreement, are covered by it. The copyright holder
organisations are to be approved by the Minister of Culture.
A new aspect is that all wireless transmissions fall under the new agreement
license rule in § 35 of the copyright law, including encoded
transmissions. The main part of Danish cable networks must enter an agreement
of further transmission of programmes, while cable networks which do not have
more than two connections are not required to do so.
If the parties are not able to reach an agreement on further transmission of a
programme, the case may be brought to the copyright license commission, which
based on a fairness evaluation may grant concession for further transmission of
the programme in question and set the conditions for this. The verdict is valid
for all copyright holders.
The changes are being implemented from 1 January 1998.
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Gift to Nuuk
On 15 February 1997, the house of culture in Katuaq in Nuuk, Greenland was
The Swedish Government presented, in co-operation with the Swedish film
institute and AB Swedish film industry, a gift in the form of equipment for a
cinema. Thus, Greenland has its first cinema.
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Television viewing increased in Finland in 1996
Finns spent an average of 2 hours 41 minutes per person a day watching
television, which was up 10 minutes compared to 1995. The survey published by
Finnish Gallup-Media Oy last year also showed that the Finns spent 155 minutes
daily listening to the radio and 79 minutes reading newspapers and magazines.
Another source, Finnpanel Oy, TV Meter survey 1996, showed that the MTV3
Channel had an 41,7 % audience share in 1996, compared to 43,2 % in 1995.
Second came TV1 Yle; 24,9 % in 1996, 24,4 % in 1995. TV2 Yle was third, with a
share of 20,1 % in 1996, compared to 19,4 % in 1995. Video, Finnish cable
transmissions and "other" accounted for the remainder of the audience share.
The MTV3 Channel maintained its position as the largest advertising medium in
Finland. Although the total growth in media advertising was less than expected
in 1996, TV advertising`s share of media spending increased by 2,1 % during the
year, giving it a market share of 20,9 %. Newspapers accounted for 58,3 % of
the total and magazines had a 14,1 % share.
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Multimedia for the deaf
The communication centre for the deaf have presented two new multimedia
programmes called Óðinn and Völundur.
Óðinn is an Icelandic synthetic speech machine and
Völundur a multimedia programme to connect text and sign language.
The programme is used for production of educational material in language for
the deaf. Work has also been started on a dictionary programme, which is to be
connected to the material. Both programmes are quite useful in re on
Icelandic sign language. This innovation will undoubtedly be of great help for
teaching the deaf in Iceland, and also offers opportunities for development
and sale on the international market.
TV 3 closed down
The Icelandic radio company which operates TV 2 recently bought all the shares
in Icelandic Multimedia A/S, which operates TV 3. In compensation, the
shareholders received 9% of the shares of the radio company. This was rather
unexpected, since it was assumed that TV 3 was preparing increased competition
with TV 2.
Icelandic Multimedia A/S took over the operation of TV 3 by the end of October
last year, after a compulsory composition had been entered with the Icelandic
TV A/S. The share capital was extended to 30 million DKK by the end of
December, and plans existed for a further extension of 15-20 million DKK early
These measures, in addition to the hiring of four central persons from TV 2
gave expectations of increased competition on the Icelandic TV market. On
further planning of the running of TV 3, it became clear that the need for
capital was greater than previously anticipated.
In the negotiations between the shareholders in Icelandic multimedia and the
leadership of the Icelandic radio, the final result was that the radio company
was to take over Icelandic multimedia and thus the competitor TV 3.
At the first meeting with the new management of Icelandic multimedia A/S, it
was determined that the transmission of TV 3 should end.
TV 2 then does not need to expect any local competition in the years to come
for subscription TV, and is better prepared to meet the expected competition
from foreign satellite stations. According to the agreement, the intention is
to make shares in the Icelandic radio company available on the regular stock
The competition board will probably investigate the merger of TV 2 and TV 3 to
find out whether it is in violation with competition legislation. The reason
for doing so is, according to the board, the increased concentration of
ownership. The competition board may prohibit the merger of companies or stop
it if it considers it necessary to maintain competition, but has never done so
in the past.
The Minister of Education, Mr. Björn Bjarnason hopes that the merger of
TV2 and TV 3 may stop TV stations from investing in each other and rather spend
more on Icelandic programming. In his opinion, the merger of the private TV
stations is not something that the Ministry should handle.
Rather, the Radio distribution commission, which is an independent body, should
examine the development of the matter. The commission assigns transmission
channels and the concession owners are required to inform the commission about
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New common regulations for the broadcasting law
On 28 February, the Government issued a new common set of regulations for
broadcasting. The regulations went into effect immediately, and cancelled
previous regulations concerning cable transmissions, advertising in
broadcasting and sponsorship of programmes. In addition, the local broadcasting
regulations of 5 January 1996 are worked into the new common regulations.
The regulations contain general clauses about the relationship to international
regulations, about concession granting and the use of broadcasting concessions,
among other things.
European programme quotas in Norwegian television
Some of the clauses will mean a more detailed implementation of the
TV-directive of the EU/European Economic Agreement, which, for example, covers
European programme quotas. At least 50% of the TV transmission (excluding news,
sports etc) is to be earmarked for European productions. At least 10% of the
transmission time (excluding news, sports etc) is to be filled by European
programmes produced by independent TV companies.
The regulation board of EFTA demands statistical information from each country,
which must cover the percentage of newer programmes, produced during the last
five years. Neither NRK, TV2 nor TVNorge had available statistical material
concerning newer programmes when the last reports were filed to EFTA/EU.
Some changes have been made concerning advertising when the target group is
children. The participation of children in advertising, along with other
aspects, will be emphasised when considering if an advertising spot is
particularly targeted at children. Furthermore, the regulation provides a
definition of what is to be considered children's programmes.
The Consumers Council will still overlook the regulations on advertising and
children. The current practice of allowing advertising breaks in full length
movies if the break lasts at least 20 minutes is now part of the written
The duty to transmit NRK and TV2 in cable networks is maintained. Land based,
general local TV must also be transmitted. As earlier, there must be a majority
among the subscribers for other channels to be transmitted.
Re-transmissions in the cable networks of channels from countries in the
European Economic Agreement who have signed the European council convention on
TV across borders that transmit advertising in violation of Norwegian
regulations, may not be stopped. However, targeted advertising in violation
of rules in transmissions from countries outside the EEA may be stopped.
Simultaneously with the common regulations, new sanction rules in the
broadcasting law went into effect. There is a fee which may be issued for
breaking the rules on advertising and sponsorship.
There are to be two methods of calculation of the fee, depending on whether
the violation is objectively measurable or it must be subject to an
Media ownership - measures to ensure variety
The Government wants to restrict concentration of ownership in the press and
broadcasting which may threaten variety and freedom of speech, and suggests in
a law proposal a commission to monitor ownership of the media and stop too
The supervisory institution may take action if someone gains a substantial
ownership position nationally, regionally or in a local environment andthis is
contradictory to the purpose of the law.
"Substantial ownership" means that someone alone or in co-operation with other
controls more than 30% of the national press circulation. It is also possible
to intervene if a purchase means cross ownership between parties each
controlling at least 10% of the national circulation.
When the supervisory institution makes its evaluation, it is not restricted to
ownership in the same media sector. For example, when a broadcasting company is
bought, the company's ownership of daily press or electronic media is part of
the total picture for the evaluation.
At the moment, the law will only cover daily press and broadcasting, since
these are most important in the forming of public opinion. However, the
institution may take ownership of other types of media into consideration, and
it may be extended to include electronic media.
Control and complaint boards
The governmental media board will be responsible for overseeing the
regulations. Any ruling according to this law may be appealed to a separate
board. In order to ensure the independence of the media board, the Ministry of
Culture is not allowed to issue instructions to the board and its rulings in
the area of ownership legislation.
Information of ownership
The Government will introduce a law with an obligation for daily press and
broadcasting to inform about their ownership. This will ensure that readers,
listeners and viewers know who owns the newspaper, radio or TV station, and
this makes it possible to influence the editorial contents through economic
measurements and changes of editors. In order to ensure additional guards of
the principles of editorial independence, the Government will introduce a law
stating that all Norwegian media must have an editor and that the relationship
between the editor and the owners must be based on the already commonly adopted
editorial rules. This states the editorial independence in relationship to the
media owner and management and that the editor is responsible for what is
stated and that the editor is protected against intervention and control of
If the Parliament agrees to these proposals, a media law may be introduced to
cover the concession regulations on ownership, editorial responsibility,
editorial independence, monitoring of acquisitions and the duty to inform about
The law proposal and the Parliamentary white paper on media ownership are
available (in Norwegian) on the Government's www server: http://www.dep.no
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New transmission concessions
On 12 December 1996, the Government made a decision concerning new transmission
concession for Swedish Television AB, Swedish Radio AB, Swedish Educational
Radio AB in addition to TV4 AB.
The concession period runs from 1 January 1997 until 31 December 2001. The
exception is the concession for the Educational Radio, which was granted a two
year concession until the end of 1998. The former practice of agreements
between the Government and the programming companies is replaced according to
the radio and TV law (1996:844) with a possibility for the Government to pose
different conditions for companies with concession for broadcasting television
and nation-wide radio.
Regional broadcasts from TV4
An intense debate concerning the regional broadcasts of TV4 blossomed shortly
after TV4 was granted new transmission rights in 1996.
The new transmission conditions contain, among other things, requirements for
the maintenance of the regional perspective. The organisation of the company is
supposed to participate in the mirroring of events from different parts of the
country in the programmes. The Government has not, based on the new radio and
TV law, been able to enforce regional transmissions and editorial staffs.
Since the discussion was closed, it has become evident that it is possible that
TV4 will not renew the agreement with 16 local TV companies. This would mean
the termination of regional broadcasts in TV4 in a number of places. The
Government and the two political parties Centerpartiet and Folkpartiet agreed
in December on conditions for local TV stations that transmit TV4. The
agreement means certain adjustments; the company is allowed to send 10 minutes
of advertising per hour between 7 and 24 p.m. as opposed to 8 minutes today.
However, the total amount of advertising in the programmes may not increase.
This will make TV4 better able to continue its regional programmes.
TV4 has entered into an agreement with local TV companies to continue regional
transmission in at least the same number of areas and at least to the same
extent as today. The measure covers the entire upcoming concession period and
means that local TV is given good development possibilities, e,g. in the
question of economy and transmission times.
The proposal from the Government means that the radio and TV law is being
completed so that one transmission concession granted by the government may be
linked to an obligation to transmit and produce programmes regionally.
The law change is proposed to go into effect on 1 July 1997.
Digital TV co-ordination
The General Director Ms. Gunnel Färm was appointed by the Ministry of
Culture on 27 January to prepare the start of digital terrestrial-based TV
transmission in Sweden. She is to presuppose in which areas transmissions are
to start and also develop forms for co-operation between the TV companies. In
addition, Gunnel Färm will consider whether Swedish Television is to be
given the opportunity to send pay TV and if so, under which conditions.
The Government's proposal for digital TV transmissions was presented to the
Parliament on 20 December 1996. It is suggested that digital terrestrial-based TV is
to be introduced in several steps with the possibility of the Government to
consider the development step by step. The transmissions are to start as soon
as possible, and preferably in the autumn of 1997.
At first, there will be transmission to a number of locations. They are to be
picked in such a way that they complement each other, for example, in the ratio
of urban to rural locations. In order for a sufficient number of TV companies
to be given place, at least two transmission frequencies should be available in
Gunnel Färm is the leader of the Council for working life re.
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