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First edition 1997

(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 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 (3/96).

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 film institute.

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.


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 opened.

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 this year.

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 market shortly.

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 the change.


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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 regulations.

Cable transmissions
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.

Sanction regulations
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 evaluation.


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 great concentrations.

Supervisory institution
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 editorial functions.

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 ownership.

The law proposal and the Parliamentary white paper on media ownership are available (in Norwegian) on the Government's www server:


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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 each location.

Gunnel Färm is the leader of the Council for working life re.


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